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Is hanging of Yakub a reflection of New Delhi’s mindset?

By Aaqib Hussain  :A message claiming to be the last words of Yakub Memon is doing rounds on social media, wherein he is believed to have praised the founder of the Pakistani state, Mohammad Ali Jinnah for his vision, and Kashmiris for their heroic struggle against the state. No one has vouched for the authenticity of this statement yet, but the hanging itself is a message or maybe a reminder of the mindset of the Indian state.
Analysing the pattern of executions in the past decade or so, one could easily guess that Yakub had to hang; today, tomorrowor day after. With the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party led government at New Delhi it was not unexpected. The rise of BJP is often linked to its role in the demolition of Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. For years the right wing Hindu party openly advocated razing this four-century-old mosque to pave the wave for the construction of Ram temple. The role of its leaders in the 1992 Babri masjid demolition movement isn’t hidden from anyone. Who hasn’t seen LK Advani, former deputy prime minster of India, carrying a bow and an arrow in his notorious Rath Yatra, a march that was launched to raze down the 16th century mosque?
The Bombay blasts of March 12, 1993, were a sequel to the Bombay riots of January 1993 in which Hindu mobs killed around 700 Muslims, raped their women and destroyed properties worth billions. The Srikrishna commission appointed for inquiry into the riots during December 1992 and January 1993 aptly summed up this sequence as Babri mosque-Bombay riots-Bombay blasts. It was no secret that the Rath Yatra of Advani would snowball into a major disruption that will divide India’s population. The Srikrishna commission made the following observations about the government and law enforcing agencies:
“That there was a general bias against the Muslims in the minds of average policeman which was evident in the way they dealt with the Muslims”.
“There were attacks going on against the Muslims and their properties in different areas from 8 January 1993, at least there is no doubt that Shiv Sena took the lead in organised attacks on Muslims and their properties under the guidance of several leaders of Shiv Sena from level of shahkha-pramukh (branch leader) to Shiv Sena pramukh (chief), Bal Thackeray, who like a veteran general, commanded his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate by organised attacks against Muslims.”
Even Yakub, in his only interview, acknowledged the fact that Bombay blasts were carried out in revenge to the riots and the demolition of Babri mosque. Having known the sensitivities and the emotions of Muslims attached to the Babri mosque, the BJP government by hanging Yakub has once again drawn the old Babri mosque sword through the Muslim heart. The hanging has certainly led the Muslims of India to ask some important questions. Why are the main conspirators of Bombay and Gujarat pogrom yet to be brought to book? Why are Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani being granted bail every now and then? The thought of Bal Thackeray getting a state funeral after his proven role in the riots has always been disturbing for the Indian Muslims. And now hanging Yakub, after he had became a willing government witness, with such urgency, who was not the main conspirator and had already spent two decades in a prison, the perception that Muslims are being targeted because of their faith has been reinforced. By all legal and moral standards Yakub’s case didn’t merit a death sentence.
Since the Indian state couldn’t find Tiger Memon they hanged Yakub. That reminds me of the killing of Khalid Muzaffar Wani of Tral in April this year. Khalid was the brother of Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen commander’s Burhan. Considered to be the main player in renewing militancy in south Kashmir, Burhan has been keeping troops and police on tenterhooks for some years now. All attempts to nab him have failed and killing Muzaffar was a perfect example of “punishing you for your kin” attitude. It was not the first time that such things have been done in Kashmir. Many such cases have been reported in the past where kin of militants were taken into custody and tortured. And since 2008 reports of relatives of youth wanted for protests and stone pelting being detained or tortured are not uncommon.
The Indian state has been setting bad precedents and continues to do so. The way it treated Yakub is gruesome. After he returned under a deal, became an approver against his own brother, spent 21 years in confinement, left a safe asylum in Karachi only to help the Indian investigation agencies, he for sure didn’t deserve to be hanged.
Events like this force minority communities of India to think about their fate. A crime is a crime; you cannot punish one person and exonerate others for the same crime. The foundation of every nation lies on its justice system and it cannot dish out judgments on the basis of a particular community.
—The author is a student of dentistry based in New Delhi. Feedback: [email protected]