Intro: The campaign run by certain individuals to get the death sentence of Yakub commuted to life imprisonment indicates a specific agenda of a section of the society.
In any democratic country of the world, even if sympathisers of the terrorists exist, they will not come out openly in support of the ultras because of the fear of social scoffs sometimes going to the extent of ostracism. Imagine, some people and groups in the USA eulogising the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; how the American society at large will react to the development? Unfortunately, ours is the unique country in the world where not only the terrorist acts get justified (with fictitious arguments and under the garb of religion) the terrorists are turned into martyrs and their sympathisers most audaciously try to save them from the gallows.
Recent endeavours, by a lobby to save Yakub Memon from getting executed have left the people of this country to seriously ponder over the issue of terrorism and the role of the said lobby in relation to that. The bitter truth is: the scourge of terrorism will keep troubling our nation for many years to come, may be with higher intensity. The moot question is: how the society should deal with these sympathisers and supporters of the terrorists?
The apologists for Yakub Memon have argued that since he voluntarily surrendered therefore he didn’t deserve to be hanged. This surrender theory has been wrongly presented in front of the Indian people. One article purportedly written by Late B Raman (Former Deputy Director of RAW) is being widely cited to substantiate the so called surrender theory. After his retirement, Mr B Raman used to speak at various forums including seminars and used to share his knowledge with the audience within his professional limits. In one such seminar, organised by FINS (Forum of Integrated National Security) during our talks, he divulged that it was conveyed to the absconders of the Mumbai serial bomb blasts that if they come back to India, they will be given very fair trial and protection to their family and property would be guaranteed.
As the subsequent events have unfolded, who on this earth can contest that, Yakub Memon and his family didn’t get fair trial? All his family members who returned to India, were either acquitted or got away with minor sentences; and this happened despite the fact that they illegally went to Pakistan and used forged passports. Prima facie, all the members of the family knew about the heinous conspiracy of the bomb blasts, but, the honourable court punished those only who had direct complicity in the crime. What more amount of fairness one can expect?
As far as arrest of Yakub Memon is concerned, after fleeing to Pakistan, he was provided a posh bungalow in the Clifton locality of Karachi by the ISI of that country; ostensibly, the person who remained in his contact and who used to give him money, was Taufiq Jalianwalla, a known smuggler of Karachi and reportedly an operative of ISI. Yakub and his family was feeling suffocated in Karachi because there were hard restrictions placed on their movement. Moreover, the enemies, which the Memon family had created for itself, were giving it sleepless nights in Pakistan. It is worth mentioning that the underworld in the city of Mumbai had distinct rules of its own prior to the serial bomb blasts of the year 1993 and religion had little part to play in the conduct and dealings of its members. However, post 1993, the thin veneer of the so called religious-neutrality of the Muslim underworld got completely rubbed off. The kind of viciousness Muslim Mafia had displayed towards the predominant Hindu inhabitants of the city of Mumbai, antagonising Hindu colleagues.
Those very Hindu gangsters, who earlier, had protected and acted on behalf of the Muslims of the underworld, were baying for the blood of Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger and Yakoob Memon and other perpetrators of the bomb blasts. Tiger Memon had gone completely in hiding in Karachi but Yakub thought that instead of getting suffocated at the hands of the ISI, it was better to come back to India and face trial. There were two objectives behind the move: those members of the family who were not directly involved with the blasts, would be freed from the clutches of the ISI and would have free control over properties left behind in Mumbai, and Yakub himself would try to get away with meagre punishment.
It can be vividly recalled that prior to the serial bomb blasts, hardly any underworld kingpin had been convicted in Mumbai. Eventhough criminal cases were registered, punishments could not be awarded. Either the witnesses used to be too scared to depose in the court of law or they were bought over by the accused. The stories of the police officers, public prosecutors and even the judges being intimidated at the hands of the underworld make rounds even today. Based upon his past knowledge of circumventing and subverting the law, Yakub started contemplating the idea of returning to India.
He went to Nepal on the forged passport from Karachi and was trying to seek legal opinion on his surrender when Indian intelligence agencies caught him and packed him off to a train to New Delhi where he was officially arrested by the law enforcing agencies. Yakub had miscalculated the determination of the Indian legal apparatus to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the most horrendous crime of the serial bomb blasts in the city of Mumbai. He had to face very fair trial and court after court held him guilty of being part and parcel of the conspiracy. After smuggling in 3000 Kgs of RDX, hundreds of AK56 assault rifles and thousands of hand grenades, which together, were capable of blasting off the whole city of Mumbai, what judgement Yakub and his sympathisers were expecting from the judiciary? The campaign run by certain individuals to get the death sentence of Yakub commuted to life imprisonment and the events which took place subsequent to his hanging indicate a specific agenda of a section of the society. If the trend does not get stopped, misguided youth will be further emboldened to take innocent lives because they will be having a confidence of mustering support of sympathisers who will keep justifying the terrorist acts on different pretexts and grounds of religion.
Rajan Khanna (The writer is Mumbai based