I was not following Yakub Memon’s death penalty until I came across this news –
I couldn’t believe in my eyes that some distinguished personalities can in fact rally behind a terrorist who had killed 257 innocent men in Mumbai. They belonged to all walks of life, politicians, judges, lawyers, social activists, actors etc. The reasons for his mercy petition were –
- An international commitment to abolish the death penalty
- President of India has the power to grant pardon under Article 72 of Indian Constitution
- Abolition of the death penalty contributes to human dignity and progressive development of human rights
- Abolition of the death penalty should be considered as progress in the enjoyment of the right to life
- Internationally it is no more debated but considered as an established fact that death penalty should be abolished
Case-specific points on why this death penalty is illegal
- Yakub Menon was not given advance notice of the death warrant hearing, hence this order is void
- The long duration of trial and incarceration suffered till date. He suffered 20 years in prison till his arrest and 14 long years of trial, while Hon. SC used this long period of incarceration to lessen the sentence for other accused, did not do so for Yakub.
- Yakub Memon is mentally unfit for execution. He is suffering from Schizophrenia for last 20 years and is unfit for a death sentence.
- Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim are main conspirators, not Yakub
- Commuted co-accused played a larger role than Yakub Memon. Prejudiced on account of being Tiger Memon’s brother
- He was a witness in the case. He provided information about Pakistan’s involvement in the blasts and his death will weaken that side.
- Other death sentence convicts like Veerappan and killer of Rajiv Gandhi have been commuted
- Death Sentence awarded under TADA which was later repealed by the govt.
- Grant of mercy will send out a message that “as a nation, we are committed to the equal application of mercy and values of forgiveness, and justice”.
As stated in this mercy petition that he has surrendered before the Indian authorities seem to be an outright lie when we see exactly what was written by the head of Pakistan desk of RAW, and I quote –
“He had come to Kathmandu secretly from Karachi to consult a relative and a lawyer on the advisability of some members of the Memon family, including himself, who felt uncomfortable with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, returning to India and surrendering to the Mumbai police. The relative and the lawyer advised him against surrender due to a fear that justice might not be done to them. They advised Yakub to go back to Karachi.
Before he could board the flight to Karachi, he was picked up by the Nepal police on suspicion, identified and rapidly moved to India.”
This clearly shows that he had not surrendered but was arrested on suspicion.
This article was written by B Raman (given at the end of Hindu article) also says that Yakub helped Indian authorities by making some members of the Memon family surrender before Indian authorities in Dubai.
If we look at all the above arguments in favour of his mercy all of this fall apart when we compare these with some other death penalties given in India.
In a study in 2013-14, called “Death Penalty Research Project” conducted by National Law University students of 400 death row convicts; it was found –
- A majority on death row are first-time offenders
- Direct evidence missing in most of the cases
- Confessions extracted through torture relied on conviction
- Convicts on death row receive poor legal assistance
- A majority spend 10-20 years before the mercy petition is rejected
- Trial courts under pressure to ‘act tough’, award more deaths
Take the case of Dharampal of Sonepat who was initially accused of raping a girl that he repeatedly said that he didn’t commit. The “Death Penalty research project” of NLU students revealed that he too waited for several years to get bail. After finally getting bail in ’93 he killed her and four other family members and was given the death sentence for that.
The researchers also found that in some cases the women in some of the death row convicts’ family were sexually exploited by the defense lawyer.
In case of Dhananjay Chatterjee who was hanged till death in 2004 for rape and murder of Hetal Parekh in 1990, police didn’t find any direct evidence of his involvement in the actual crime. Only the chain of the victim was recovered from his house, even though he denied involvement in the crime he was executed and no one cried for him.
This discussion of the NLU research has become pertinent here because when the convict is a poor common Indian man, we don’t find any such intelligentsia to move for them. Most often these common men are given death penalty as the NLU study reveals “without concluding evidence”.
Take for example the 2012 Delhi Gang Rape case. Four adults accused were hanged till death but Indian paid media repented that the juvenile was not hanged –
If we recall the events that had happened after December 2012, we will know how many celebrities were aggrieved and how many of them wanted death penalty of the accused. In fact, a sentiment in favour of the death sentence was created carefully by these celebrities, politicians, and judges then. The then Chief Justice of India openly said that he wanted to join Delhi protests –
Even Delhi rapists pleaded guilty, they helped the investigation (do any criminal have any option after getting caught in such high profile cases?) but for their conviction, a special law was created under the pressure of so-called intelligentsia. Whereas, to save a terrorist the same people rallied for his mercy. Does this mean if someone kills several thousand and then become a govt? witness then they will not be punished?
In case of Yakub Memon who has killed hundreds of innocents, judges came out in his support and signed mercy petition while when some poor people were being sentenced for assault on one individual they wanted to punish them.
Feminists like Kavita Krishnan, however, did not want the death penalty for the rape accused even after Dec 2012 incident but she supported the death penalty in a different way on her Facebook wall –
She would not shed tears if a rapist (that included a juvenile accused) is hanged but will definitely oppose death penalty for a terrorist who had killed more than 250 people.
She continued glorification of Yakub Memon in different ways including projecting him like a role model of injustice –
Her cheating state, lynching mob etc. never came out when men protested biased rape laws.
Question is, what prompted feminists and gender rights activists suddenly become activist for terrorists. Did feminism, rape etc. start repelling people so much that they had to take another fresh issue in the name of human rights? Whatever be the case, those who are crying hoarse for Yakub Memon are completely denying justice for the families of those who were killed by Yakub. They all are common men and women. But feminists don’t feel the pain of those women now.
These activists are also ignoring the sacrifice of our police force who save us from these terrorists. Even, I agree that when we as human beings, we can’t give life, how can we take a life? But who has given the same authority to these terrorists to take the life of hundreds? If they did, they should not exist in the society. Also if we keep them alive, what is the guarantee that their organization will not plan his release in future by taking some innocent Indians hostage and killing some of them?
Those who are rallying behind a terrorist today, raise a significant question – Is Yakub Memon dead? Or he is still alive among those who support him?