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INDRANI BANERJEE

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 8/15/2015 |




KALAM & MEMON

(A saga of honor and hatred showered upon two individuals within a nation that still exits with the religious parameters of stereotypes, radical views and modern outlook of a mature developing country)


“main kiske haath pe apna lahoo talash karoon
tamaam shehar ne pehne hue hain dastaane”

(On whose hands should I look for my blood?
When the whole city is wearing gloves)
Ahmad Faraz ,1931-2007

The financer of one of the worst attack on a nation and the missile man of the same country i.e. India passed away few days apart. One was the people's president, the architect of our nuclear program, and the other was a 'blood-thirsty terrorist' who financed his brother's sinister plans to bomb Mumbai. One will be truly missed and the later sure deserved to die. This entire episode of wrath, anger gratitude and frustration puts forward one important fact once again. The idea of being an Indian and the idea of being a Muslim somehow has been lost in the transition of radical beliefs and religious outlook.

In their death, both Yakub and Kalam exposed us to the hunger for macabre. The former one we treated as martyr and the later as a conspirator a traitor. We showed the utmost respect to Kalam but we not only shamed Yakub but also his family. Yakub s family member while carrying his dead body in the flight not only faced humiliation from the fellow passengers but also after the insult they wanted to take selfies with his coffin .The constant debate between Team Hanging and Team Mercy . Although we captured Yakub Memon, the man behind the blast i.e. Tiger Memon still remains out of our reach .

We all lined up for the contest on either side of lines dividing pent up frustration, biases, fears, misplaced notions of patriotism and justice; all the Freudian concepts imagined . This proved that we are the ultimate suckers of death as ultimate entertainment in TV. We – the entire nation became the participant, we observed every minute and every moment of the hanging .Ultimately, Yakub Memon’s death just became a status.



Opposition to the death penalty is founded on the belief that retribution is unworthy; it should be abolished because we are a civilized society. These assertions - they are not arguments - appeal to what Aristotle called the pathos, or emotions, of the public. Mercy, forgiveness, civilization...such words encompass lovely ideals that appeal to our vanity as much as our hopes when it costs us nothing. Yet there is nothing qualitatively superior to such assertions compared to saying that as a civilized society, we cannot tolerate those who commit exceptionally brutal or gruesome acts. Retribution is very much a part of human nature and laws that suppress such strong evolutionary inclinations just beg to be violated. Even a brief survey of world literature and history would powerfully underscore the part revenge plays in human affairs. Recent mob attacks on some rape-accused in India, even in jail, reiterate this lesson even More than 160 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice and 98 of those have abolished it altogether. India is one of the 58 countries which still hands out the death penalty, according to a UN reports.

The international voices against Yakub Memon's hanging was led by UN secretary general Ban ki moon who emphasized his stand against death sentences.

New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch urged India to order a ban, saying there is no evidence that the "cruel" form of punishment acts as a deterrent.

"Why does India cling to capital punishment? Perhaps the government is afraid to be seen as soft in the face of horrific terrorist attacks or other crimes like the 2013 gang rape of a student in New Delhi. But the often professed goals for capital punishment – deterrence, reformation, or justice – hardly hold up to scrutiny," said Jayshree Bajoria, a researcher with the organization.

Eminent jurists too joined the debate. While former attorney general (AG) Soli Sorabjee called for a ban on capital punishment, present AG Mukul Rohatgi said it wasn't time yet.

Writers and opinion makers who spoke out against the noose mainly said the state should not be a party to taking precious lives and that death is never a deterrent for terrorists.

A large section of the media stuck to the argument that it was time for India to rethink the capital punishment laws.

"India's use of the death penalty demeans the most cherished idea on which our republic rests, the idea of justice," wrote the Indian Express in its editorial.

The Hindu's editorial said, “A truly lasting solution to the moral dilemma that each instance of capital punishment poses will be to abolish it altogether and replace it with a sentence of imprisonment for the rest of the convict's life."

Others like R Jagannathan, Editor-in-chief at Firstpost argued in favour of retaining the maximum penalty saying: "We need the death penalty for our own reasons at this stage in our development as a civilised society."

Courts in India had awarded death penalty to 2,052 convicts between 1998 and 2013, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, but only three were executed.

The three executions were those of Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004, who was convicted for the rape and murder of a teenage girl in Kolkata, Ajmal Kasab for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and Afzal Guru for the 2001 Parliament attack. Further.

Yakub Memon has been hanged and is no more. But the issues around his case will reverberate in our consciousness for a long time. And the last word is yet to be said.

INDRANI BANERJEE





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