Fifty-three year old Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted for his ‘involvement’ in a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in March 1993 which killed 257 people, was executed by hanging Thursday morning at the Nagpur Central jail, after the Supreme Court of India rejected his final clemency plea. President of India and Governor of Maharashtra also rejected his mercy petitions.
What does Yakub Memon’s hanging convey to over 14 per cent population living in India, the minority Muslim community?
And what does Memon’s hanging mean to Kashmiris?
Amnesty International, the London based leading world human rights body, described Memon’s execution as “cruel” and “inhuman”, rightly so.
More than two-thirds of world nations have abandoned capital punishment. It appears archaic and outdated to see people being sent to the gallows in the 21st century. Around 140 countries are against the use of death penalty, and it is utterly sad that India — which aspires to be an emerging world power and sells its model of democracy to the entire world — continues with executions.
Anyway, the Muslim majority Kashmir valley saw angry and strong reactions from politicians across the ideological divide over the hanging of Memon. This hanging is being interpreted as a message to Muslims that Indian judiciary and institutions will not deliver justice to them. Muslim leaders are concluding from Memon’s execution that Indian judiciary is in a hurry to execute Muslim convicts and adopts humane approach in relation to the convicts belonging to other communities, especially the majority community.
Even some Indian experts are raising serious doubts over the judicial processes followed and entire drama surrounding Memon’s capital punishment. The question everyone appears to be asking in Kashmir is this: why are Rajiv Gandhi’s killers not hanged? Why not hang killers of Beant Singh?
Mohammad Afzal Guru, convicted in the attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001, was hanged in February 2013 in Tihar jail. Even his body was not handed over to his family in Sopore.
Amnesty International makes a lot of sense by saying that Memon’s execution will not deliver justice for the 1993 Mumbai blasts and that it is a misguided attempt to prevent terrorism, and a disappointing use of the criminal justice system as a tool for retribution.
The larger question, however, remains why hang people in the first place?