Memon Hanged

Yakub Memon, one of the prime accused of the Mumbai blast case, has been sent to the gallows in the Nagpur Central Jail after spending more than twenty years in prison. The blast occurred in the wake of the riots in Mumbai in 1993 and took away 257 human lives while maiming more than 700 people. Through the different interpretations, supporting and opposing the judgment, it has been made clear that the riots, which followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid, harmed the Muslim community immensely, and many ordinary Muslims were killed. The Mumbai blast was clearly a senseless reaction to this, may be inspired by the ISI. Even the then chief of the task force of the CBI admitted this. It is true that quite a number of innocent civilians lost their lives in the blast, and hence it is a heinous act against humanity. But a pertinent question is whether any of perpetrators of the riots (the crimes of these perpetrators were not less heinous) that preceded the blast has been punished. One can also cite the example of the genocidal riots against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, in the wake of which Mr Pravin Togadia claimed that their Gujarat experiment was successful, and the culprits got away with impunity or with the least possible punishment. Shankar Guha Neogi, the legendary leader of the Chhattisgarh workers and founder of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, was murdered by assassins hired by corporate management. The administration and the police were unable to punish a single one for this ghastly murder. Going back a little more in time, one can recall the horrible anti-Sikh massacre in Delhi in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Indira Gandhi. Everybody knows that those who had masterminded the killings were later absolved of the charges, because the CBI and the Delhi police were not much interested in punishing them. The massacred Sikhs and the raped Sikh women were innocent civilians, not having anything to do with Indira Gandhi's killing. Yet efforts were made to explain away the massacre of Sikhs as a spontaneous reaction on the part of the masses to the killing of Indira Gandhi. When three thousand innocent lives are lost, women are raped and the properties are looted, it is absurd to describe the event as a spontaneous reaction to the killing of one single person, however famous or powerful that person may be. Over time, it has become clearer that Delhi-based Congress leaders were involved and hence they should have been punished. But there is as yet no dearth of people who do not wish to listen to reason.

The whole thing appears to be politically motivated. The Maligaon blast killed nine persons, but it is unlikely that anybody will be punished. And all of the accused persons of the infamous Maliana-Hasimpura killings by the notorious PAC of Uttar Pradesh have been acquitted. On this episode, a mainstream journalist was constrained to write in indignation that "...An execution squad had gone to work and put dozens of blameless men to death in the lee of the nation's capital, no more than sixty kilometres from Delhi... In effect, 42 lives had been collectively and abruptly put to an end but nobody had done it. After three decades the combined resources of the executive and the judiciary had conjured a whodunit..... Much of it was achieved through serial-denial and dereliction-destruction and disappearance of evidence, tardy investigation and case-making, leaden progress in the courts." (The Telegraph, 6 April)

Yakub Memon has been hanged, but his death sentence has thrown up a host of questions, including whether death sentences are at all desirable. The leniency shown to the alleged conspirators involved in the killing of Rajiv Gandhi shows a sharp contrast, laying bare the fact that political compulsions and power equations play a large role in deciding the outcomes of such trials. The way the allegations regarding the Bhopal Union Carbide incident were diluted has provided another glaring example. Nationwide controversies have, however, shown that the voice of conscience has not died.

Vol. 48, No. 5, Aug 9 - 15, 2015