Intro: A futile attempt is being made to mislead a few sections of our society especially our Muslims brothers. An offence is an offence and law of the land ought to be allowed to take its own course.
I would have never read the article myself, had it not been for the media and my deep mistrust in the Indian media, which merely gets reinforced with every such instance. This time it is with reference to an article floating in the internet, ‘Memon brothers and the Mumbai blast’, where Mr B Raman, former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), speaking through Ms Sheila Bhatt, essentially sums up his entire argument against death penalty for Yakub Memon, in the paragraph reproduced below:
“The cooperation of Yakub with the investigating agencies after he was picked up informally in Kathmandu and his role in persuading some other members of the family to come out of Pakistan and surrender constitute, in my view, a strong mitigating circumstance to be taken into consideration while considering whether the death penalty should be implemented.”
The media while arduously debating over the issue, never asked any of the esteemed panelist in particular lawyers (like Prashant Bhushan who woke up to the issue in the eleventh hour, but at least woke up) as to what being ‘informally picked up” meant?
Moreover, Mr Raman fervently pleaded that Yakub persuading his family members to come out of Pakistan and surrendering constituted a strong mitigating circumstance, ‘in his view’. At the end of the day, it is merely a view of a person who for 12 years or 18 years (1994-2007 or is it 2013) couldn’t decide whether this ‘deeply guarded secret’ was worth revealing.
Mr Raman’s reasons for Yakub being informally being picked up, is as interesting and means as much as being informally being picked up means: loose and irresponsible. According to Mr Raman, Yakub was in Kathmandu to ‘consult’ about his surrender to Indian authorities alongwith his family, because he was getting ‘uncomfortable with ISI’. Interestingly in an interview given by Yakub Memon himself to Headlines Today on August 17, 1994, also available on the internet, Yakub explicitly speaks about the chaperoning by Pakistan and how he took “benefit from Pakistani Government because he wanted them to feel that he was with them.” His detailed description of leaving the country right away the blasts to returning after a year, has no mention of Kathmandu.
And anyone who has ample time to waste (like me, some media persons and of course some esteemed panelists on TV shows), ought to read the so called article where both Sheila Bhatt and late Mr Raman through Sheila Bhatt, have said that India has more than one reasons to be proud of Yakub Memon, ‘…who has helped India prove a point, and must be defended’. Further in the said article, with reference to some vague enquiry, Mr Raman argues that Yakub Memon should be differentiated because he allowed India ‘to use’ him and show Pakistan how from under its nose Indian intelligence officers have got back an Indian to appear before Indian courts. Such a statement coming from a former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is not only unexpected but ridiculous.
I would only earnestly request citizens of this country to ‘use their brains’ and see what a futile attempt is being made to mislead a few sections of our society especially our muslim brothers. An offence is an offence and law of the land ought to be allowed to take its own course. My grievance with the release of the so called article is not because I relish the idea of people being sent to the gallows, but my anguish lies in the fact that such irresponsible actions in the name of free speech, merely deepens the various malicious prejudices in society.
The rest of the so called article is more or less the repetition of the same, urging the Indian Sovereign State to keep its ‘promise’. A read through the article, would really make any reasonable person wonder as to whether the alleged ‘promise’ was made by Indian Authorities or was it made solely by Mr Raman. An extract from the said article would expel all doubts, and save me from the accusation of putting words in to the minds of the readers:
‘As the head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), I had dealt with the external aspects of the investigation between March 1993 and my retirement on August 31, 1994. I like to believe that my work, with the help of some outstanding field officers of R&AW, was highly appreciated by PV Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, who described our contribution to the investigation of the external aspects as worth its weight in gold.’
Intriguingly enough, Yakub in the August 1994 video, neither mentioned any ‘promise’ made by the Indian authorities nor divulged the details of his surrender. What was more important for him was to ‘mitigate’ his involvement by shoving the blame on Pakistan and his brother, Tiger who had not been apprehended. Such questions pertaining to why Yakub did not publically or legally claim being an ‘approver’ before July 2015, is not important for the naïve media. Obviously Yakub was more interested in safeguarding his secret deals, than saving his own life.
The only credible part of the article is the fact that Sheila Bhatt at one point writes, ‘Mr Raman revealed his thoughts frequently through e-mail conversations. (In the final years of his life he was madly in love with Twitter, he was in fact addicted to it)’ We wouldn’t ever know much about the existence of the emails, but one thing is for sure that such ‘thoughts’ are, at best ‘good tweets’. Our naïve and incredulous media however, finds it democratically gratifying in pitting tweets against legally credible evidence on prime time television.
Mrinmayee Mahapatra (The writer is a senior Advocate and member of Group of Intellectuals and Academicians)