Yakub Memon is no longer with us. Allegedly one of the masterminds of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Yakub had to spend 22 years behind bars before he was ceremoniously hung to death early this morning, July 30, 2014. He died on the day he was born. How poetic! We even denied the victims justice by delaying the actual punishment .. So, what is the purpose, really?
I am not going to miss Yakub, of course, but I am definitely going to wonder whether justice was served. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam passed away on Monday. Granting Yakub mercy could have been a suitable tribute to the former President.
The 54-year-old Yakub went begging. His mercy petition went through three layers of assessment. He knocked everyone’s door, but nobody was interested in listening. He was a terrorist, responsible for the death of 257 Indians. He was considered at par with Dawood Ibrahim and his wicked brother, Tiger Memon.
Dismissing Memon’s curative petition, the Supreme Court believed there was no procedural lapse in the formation of the curative bench, which had earlier this month rejected Yakub’s appeal. Memon had argued that the death warrant against him was issued even before the Supreme Court could hear his curative petition.
In fact, if his lawyers are to be believed, Yakub Memon was not even named a conspirator in the serial blasts. He was charged under the arms act. He supplied arms and conducted training in Pakistan of the prospective terrorists. At any rate, awarding death penalty, in my personal opinion, was travesty of justice.
Yakub Memon wanted to surrender, for God’s sake! He hadn’t bought a ticket from Karachi to Nepal to hatch a conspiracy. Reportedly, he took the risk of stepping out of Pakistan because he wanted to surrender, and cooperate. Yakub Memon and his family lived a luxurious life in Pakistan, under the protection of ISI. He had no need to put his life in danger, but the man’s conscience didn’t allow him to continue living the way they were, any further.
He consulted his lawyer and friend in Nepal, took their advice on the matter. Everyone advised against the idea of voluntarily appearing before the Indian law, and urged him to return home. Yakub wasn’t too sure, he appeared to have made up his mind but was still confused. Perhaps, he wanted to reflect more, and headed back home with a battling mind. At the airport, his luck ran out, and he was detained on some suspicion. Yakub was brought to Delhi and he was arrested at the Old Delhi railway station.
This was in 1994. Since then till now, Yakub had grown old and developed health issues. His lawyers claim his client had a deal with the CBI. Of course, the CBI says they were only ‘cultivating’ him, preparing him for disclosures. Yakub was given to understand by the intelligence authorities that if he cooperated, they would consider it while awarding punishment. B Raman, the R&AW officer responsible for the entire operation, has clearly stated that Yakub was given assurances. Buoyed by their word, Yakub influenced his family, who were living under the protection of the ISI, to escape to Dubai. Indian authorities picked them up and brought them home to Mumbai.
Yakub Memon cooperated at every stage. Not that he had any option, now that he was under Indian custody. But he divulged information that India had been seeking, he passed on critical information about Dawood and Tiger’s whereabouts in Pakistan, his information corroborated many theories. He proved to be a precious asset, helping India make advancement in the case.
Was Yakub punished for placing faith in the justice system? He did play a hand in the gruesome bombings, but he has been looking for atonement ever since, and has proved valuable to the Indian intelligence community. He was a transformed man, a man ready for penance. We could have surprised ourselves by commuting his sentence to life in prison. The world would have taken notice. We had the opportunity to display our large-heartedness.
I am not even going to ask why Beant Singh’s killers weren’t hanged, why killers of Rajiv Gandhi were spared death. Law should be equal for all, that’s all.
What are we going to achieve with this termination of life? Why not just let him live and die in jail? Deterrent cannot be the reason because terrorists know it already. We are only acting upon the law. There is no guarantee that there will be no attacks in future just because we hanged one! They will continue to wreak havoc and we’ll just have to be prepared every single time.
I also believe that the decision on Yakub’s fate was taken in a rush. Normally, mercy petitions are sent to the Courts and President long before the date of execution. It gives the decision-makers ample time to ponder over. In Yakub’s case, everything was fast-tracked, giving them little time to make informed decision.
Many say it’s the darkest day for justice. Luminaries like Shatrughan Sinha, Tushar Gandhi, Justice Katju, who went to the extent of saying ‘Yakub is innocent’, Shobha De, Brinda Karat, Prakash Karat, former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, and many more prominent social activists, believe Yakub Memon should not have been hanged.
We should put our time, resources and effort at grabbing Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, the real culprits.
The Indian intelligence team even went to Dubai to debrief Yakub’s family, who had successfully escaped Pakistan at the insistence of Yakub. He had called back his family only after he was given a certain level of assurance. In the end, though, things didn’t really pan out the way the Memons perceived.
The death warrant was issued before exhausting all legal provisions. There was a hurry to send Yakub Memon to the ‘other side’. A fall-out of this entire event could be that the terrorists or anti-social elements will now no longer harbour the idea of surrender. They have been duly warned!