A34 INDIA SPECIAL/THE HANGING India Abroad August 7, 2015
The simple fact was that Memon was
hanged not because he was a Muslim,
but because he participated in mass
murder. He might have carried out his
crime because he felt it was his religious
obligation, but the punishment he was
meted out was for his crime not his
The tragedy, however, is that, at least
on social media, the narrative that was
being lapped up by many Indian
Muslims was that Memon was being victimised. The purveyors of this poisonous
line of thinking of course want this sentiment to grow since communal polarisation is the primary pillar of their political
strategy and is getting them traction
among sections of Indian Muslims.
The effort to explain away, even justify,
the bomb blasts as an action-reaction
thing is clearly untenable. Apart from the
old cliché that two wrongs don’t make a
right, if this action-reaction proposition
is accepted then everything can be justified – the Gujarat riots because they were
a reaction to the Godhra train burning,
the anti-Sikh riots because they were a
reaction to Indira Gandhi’s assassination,
Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination because of
the Indian Peace Keeping Force’s operations in Sri Lanka, it’s an endless list in
which even the Babri demolition can be
justified as a reaction for demolition of
the Ram temple hundreds of years back
because in this logic the cut-off point of
history is whatever suits you.
The argument that since the main conspirators Tiger Memon and Dawood
Ibrahim haven’t been brought to justice,
Yakub Memon shouldn’t be punished
also doesn’t stand the test of reason.
In law the fact that someone else has
managed to evade justice doesn’t mitigate the gravity of the crime of the person
who hasn’t been able to run away.
Even the fact that other murderers and
terrorists like Rajaona have managed to
evade capital punishment because of
political expediency doesn’t justify
Memon getting a reprieve.
While there is undeniably a miscarriage of justice when an unrepentant terrorist like Rajaona isn’t hanged, it
doesn’t mean that the same miscarriage
of justice be extended to every such criminal. If anything, Memon’s hanging
should become a template for justice
being delivered on Rajaona.
It is precisely to prevent this perceived
double-standard that the sort of discre-
tion that is bestowed upon the judiciary
through the dictum of death penalty in
only ‘rarest of rare’ cases must end. If the
statute books lay down the death penalty
for certain crimes, then that should be
the sentence for anyone found guilty of
If another mass murder — the Nithari
monster — can have his death sentence
commuted then there is something
clearly wrong with how this penalty is
Those who point to the apparent
inconsistency on part of judges in handing out the death penalty do have a case,
If capital punishment isn’t a deterrence, how are these medieval barbarians able to impose their law while
civilised societies fail to do the same?
Sushant Sareen is a Senior Fellow
at the Vivekananda International
Memon was hanged not
because he was a Muslim,
but because he participated
in mass murder
no clue as to what had happened and who
were the real perpetrators of the terror acts of
It was only after he came back and spilled
the beans along with evidentiary documents
that we came to know that even Dawood
Ibrahim and Tiger Memons were pawns of the
ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence). It
was because of him we got to know of the evil
machinations of our neighbour.
Are you convinced that it was because of
Yakub Memon that India could nail Pakistan’s
involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts and
shame the country globally?
Absolutely. It happened because Yakub
came back with tonnes of evidence of their
direct involvement. Till that time India only
had a doubt of Pakistan’s involvement. But
Yakub converted our doubts and helped us
unravel the truth.
Considering all these things, do you think he
should have been shown some mercy?
I want to ask you what is it that was
he asking for... was he asking for acquittal?
No. He is just asking for commuting of his
death sentence... and this is not without precedence.
For 21 years this man has been rotting in
Indian jails. If we had done this, we would not
have done it for the first time or something
that is unprecedented.
Plea bargaining happens all over the world.
Even dangerous terrorists like David Headley
and Tahawwur Rana have been spared
because they helped the American agencies as
well as the law of that land with precious information about various terror networks.
When I was in England I would often come
across people from the Pakistani establishment and I would openly tell them that
because of their dastardly acts Indian Muslims
have to prove their nationality.
I told them that they were not only merciless
butchers but with acts like the Mumbai bomb
blasts you have allowed many people in India
to paint the entire community as traitors.
But still it is the magnanimity of Hindus and
India that they very clearly distinguish
between people like you and Muslims in India.
Personally, I would rather have mercy on
Yakub rather than send him to the gallows for
helping the investigating agencies reach a conclusion.
We could still get a lot of fugitives of law
back to India by promising them some kind of
mercy in lieu of revealing everything that they
know about terror networks in India.
Didn’t we sign a deal with the Portugal government to not only not award capital punishment to Abu Salem, but also not to award
imprisonment of more than 25 years?
I am not asking for something that has never
happened before in India.
I have made my appeal as a Hindustani and
not as a Muslim of India.
I, Zafar Sareshwala, am speaking as a
Hindustani. I am not seeing Yakub Memon as
a Muslim, but as a criminal, who came back to
India along with his entire family and revealed
all those things that we did not know at all.
I don’t want this to become a political game.
If people on both sides, those who are thinking
that hanging Yakub will be an act of bravado
and also those who are giving it a religious
colour, my appeal to both these sections is, let
us think of ourselves as Indians first.
‘Don’t equate yakub with terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon’
zafar yunus Sareshwala. re UBen n v/reDIFF. CoM