By Arshad Alam for New Age Islam
31 July 2015
Yaqub Memon has been hanged, after taking in due judicial process into consideration, so we are told. The problem however, is that perhaps due judicial process itself does not exist in a vacuum. That’s why there was a difference of opinion even within the judges and that’s why there are other death row convicts whose death sentences have been commuted to life. Take the case of Devender Singh Pal Bhullar who was convicted to hang in the 1993 Delhi blast case. Or take the case of Balwant Singh Rajaona, convicted for plotting the assassination of the then Punjab CM Beant Singh in 1995. This is not to suggest that they should be hanged, far from it, I am opposed to all forms of death penalty. This is just to suggest that political context matters even when ‘legitimate judicial hangings’ are ‘performed’. Senior Punjab leaders are on record saying that if these people are hanged, then Punjab would be up in flames.
Yaqub Menon did not have a political constituency. That’s why his hanging is political. Look at the irony of the situation: a person who willingly comes to India, assists in the blasts cases, spends 21 years in jail, is hanged. Is this mere cheating or a Shylockian way in which the Indian state operates? If this is not murder by deceit, then one does not know what to call it. How many other people who have assisted the state in doing their work have been dealt in a similar way? Just because you are unable to get to the real culprit does not mean that you hang the person who by your own admission was helping you out. The message is very clear: don’t trust the Indian police, the Indian intelligence system and now even the Indian judiciary.
And then the Hindu Right clamours that ‘we’ (the sub-species of Indian society) are communalising the issue? No. The problem is till the time you celebrate the hanging of a person who came to help you and till the time you celebrate the mass murderers named in the Sri Krishna Report, till then, the muck is on you. It is the Hindu Right brigade which is downright communalizing the issue. How else can we understand their wicked clamouring for his death when, their own members are accused of mass murder and nothing ever has happened to them. How else does one understand the Indian express report a few days ago which claimed that files related to the Hindu right wing participation in terror related activities have gone missing? How do we understand these Hindu nationalists who have made no effort to extradite and penalise those Indian intelligence agents who fled the country after selling classified information.
The media which went to speak to the relatives of the victims of the of 1993 blast are also blinkered to say the least. What is closure for a person who has lost her near and dear ones? Hanging a person might bring ‘justice’ but closure needs a different language, a new code of negotiating life and an indomitable strength to embrace the other. But that’s another story. The real problem which disturbed me the most was that not one of the media houses thought it fit to talk to the relatives of those victims who had died in organized pogroms against Muslims during 1992-93 in Mumbai. Do they have a sense of closure? And given the state of affairs will they ever have one? You talk of closure for people of India, but yesterday, it appeared to me that consciously or subconsciously, people of India only meant Hindus of India. You seek justice for them, closure for them, but you perniciously forget hundreds of Muslims who lost their lives and thousands others who had to migrate to ghettos just to find strength in numbers. Now since your India has enjoyed and perhaps is even overjoyed with this carnival of death, sit back and introspect how much you have polarised the society through your actions.
When people like Maya Kodnani walk out on bail, witnesses in Asaram and Vyapam scam are being assassinated at will and there is no justice for borderless people like Muslims, Tribals and Dalits, and still there are people who think this is ache din, then they are either positively demented or haters of an inclusive India.
Sometimes back our Dear Leader told a foreign audience that Indians considered themselves unfortunate to be born in this country. Today, unfortunately, I can’t agree with him more.
Arshad Alam is with Centre for the study of social systems, JNU, New Delhi