Nagpur: On Thursday 30 July morning, one man will walk the last walk of his life, from his cell to the special enclosure where the Hangman will be waiting with a noose that will hang the man to death.
And thus will come to end a life which would have turned 53 years old on the same day.
A man who has spent the ast 22 years in prisons, most of them as a convicted man, will breathe his last.
He was 31 when he was ‘arrested’ in circumstances that will always be under shadow.
On July 30, another man will be buried, getting all the honour a country can bestow upon him. He passed away when he was 83 – 30 years older than Yakub will be tomorrow.
Why do I bring up the names of Bharat ‘Bhushan’ Abdul Kalam, past President of India and Yakub Memon, a Convict found guilty of bombings that killed hundreds of innocent Indians together?
One obvious similarity is both are/ were Indian Muslims who lived out their lives in India. Another is, the lives of both are in the limelight for the last two days, being held under the limelight, every facet of which is being scrutinized.
One man is being eulogized, declared the most endearing icon of the country, his death has left a void in our national consciousness, another’s death is supposed to lead to many Indians finding ‘closure’ and peace… I am speaking of the relatives of 93 blast victims here.
The comparison is also a reply to those doubters who are proclaiming loud, or even hinting that Yakub will hang because he has no “political backing” – because he belongs to the wrong Religion, perhaps? We are the same people who forgetting caste, creed, language or religion are mourning the death of a venerable Indian.
So where did Yakub Memon go so wrong that he is meeting with this end? Let us take some time to examine his life. He was born to a middle class Bharuchi- Memon family who lived in the crowded Bhendi Bazar area of Mumbai, then Bombay. He was one among 7-8 siblings. Elder brothers who soon proved themselves to be colony rowdies and younger siblings who did no better.
Only Yakub, proved to his parents that he was different. He finished school, passing with a first class. He then went to college and in four years finished his graduation too. In four years after that he had passed one of India’s most difficult and competitive exams – he became a Chartered Accountant. Not only that, he formed his own company with a Hindu partner and the company thrived. It had 200 clients. Obviously, he must have been doing well financially. He had become respectable – his was a success story.
Then what went wrong? No one will never know the full truth but we can guess. Various gangs were getting very powerful then, one of which was Dawood’s. An elder brother of Yakub, who came to be known as Tiger became an important part of it. They started off as petty law breakers, then turned to becoming crime then became hardened underworld criminals. Crime needs money – often coming from abroad, if your activities include smuggling. Money leads a trail…even if it is brought through the Havala route. Is this how, being a CA, Yakub got involved with his brother’s underworld activities? Was he actually encouraged to be a CA so he could help with money matters?
As a former RBI officer, shared with NT , the ex. RBI man was part of the first investigating party for tracking the money trail received by Yakub Memon. The only evidence so far they got is the money he received & payment made to buy these second hand vehicles, including air tickets to leave India, a day before. This is supposed to be enough proof that he is 100% guilty and knew about the blasts. He did receive inward remittance of Rs. 20 L in his account from unknown source and was asked to buy second hand khatara vehicles, using this money and also spend it for for air travel to Dubai of the whole family. Being a CA why did he not ask more questions? Why did he not get more suspicious?
Anyway, all these are moot questions now. May be as he claims, he was a victim of circumstances and is paying for the crimes of his brother and his associate since we do not have the muscle power to catch them. May be, as most Indians believe, and as the judiciary was convinced too, he was guilty and was in fact one of the master minds of the bomb blasts. His CA firm was just a cover for his illegal/ terrorist activities.
Now the question to ponder on is, what will his hanging lead to? There will definitely be a sense of ‘justice’ being meted out in the Government circles and a feeling of closure for affected people.
But what about leaders like Assauddin Owaissi who is alleging openly that the Supreme Court decision is erroneous since it shows that Justice in India is not Equal to All. Why were Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins not just pardoned but let out of prison as free people? Why were the killers of Punjab CM not hanged?
Of course these questions have no legal validity? One case is not dependent on another…. but with his utterances, the feeling of mistrust among a section of minority will grow. Owaissi is growing in strength from day to day, and not just among Muslims. Are the governments of the day mature enough and equipped enough to handle this feeling of alienation?
And finally, we as the people of India, have to ponder on the question – how humane is it for a country to give legal sanction to the state ‘murder’ of criminals?
As renowned senior lawyer Shreehari Aney puts it –
“Yakub Memon will hang. Hang till he is dead. And so be it.
But I wish to talk about what kind of a society we are.
Yakub Memon has been tried for crimes he committed & has been found guilty & sentenced to death. The conviction & the sentence was upheld by the highest court.
It is now immaterial whether he was innocent, or relatively not very guilty. It doesn’t even matter that he voluntarily surrendered himself. It matters not at all that he was otherwise a good man.
He has been found guilty and now he must take the punishment meted out. This is the way to uphold Rule of Law.
However, putting even a guilty man to death is the ultimate reflection of Sovereign power of the State. I have always opposed death penalty in principle. I find it as the basest & most barbaric manifestation of Sovereignty. It demeans the nobility of the State and reflects poorly on the collective character of a people who think that the only closure possible is by the finality of violence.
I feel that if a nation does not understand that the manifestation of its sovereignty lies in its ability to choose the essential goodness of man over the evil of bloody violence, then it has a long way to go before it can claim to be a Just society. Rule of Law that allows Justice to be delivered by putting a guilty man to death must be seen as law in its most rudimentary and primitive form.
If the wisdom of a nation is to be found reflected in its Law, then a nation that has laws that sanction death cannot call itself a wise nation or an evolved society. As a people, we are a not too far from wild animals, for we have given ourselves a law that permits us to justify our animal connection. As a society, we have not created laws that will render us more tolerant, more humane, more just.
And I find this hard to accept.”
…. Sunita Mudaliar Associate Editor