Last Friday eve, I guzzled down cans, pints, and a bottle, but as always I stayed firm on my feet. Among the many things that I discussed (debated) with a friend (Gaurav Laghate) on the table was the hype surrounding the death penalty given to 1993 Mumbai Blasts accused Yakub Memon,
Well, Memon was executed a day before but not before citizens had expressed their views on the raging debate, Hang Yakub or not?’. My good friend and I differed on the issue, but that was in no going to affect our friendship. After all, the horse had long bolted. Memon was hanged 24 hours before on his 53rd birthday.
We left the place, and then my friend dropped me to the usual location from where I take an auto to go home. He waved to a passing by auto rickshaw. Driving it was a bearded, pathani wearing devout Muslim. Oh-oh, it’s holy Friday and besides I’m drunk. Geez, guess both the auto driver and me won’t have a comfortable ride. But I was feeling drowsy and in urgent need of my comfy bed, so, I just popped in.
Few minutes later, I felt the need to talk to him. Bit hesitant though, I gently asked him, “Miyan bhai, do you mind if I ask you a question?”.
He said yes and so I blurted, “Sir ji, what do you make of the decision to hang Yakub Memon?”
Pause! Few seconds later he says, “Sir, it is immaterial whether you’re a Hindu or Muslim. A terrorist is a terrorist and anybody who has done such heinous act, should get stringent punishment. However, IF it is true that he himself had surrendered and implicated his brother, Pakistan and all others involved with the crime, then perhaps, he should have not given given the death penalty.”
i replied, “Miyan bhai, I agree with you, but just because he became an approve, it doesn’t absolve him of his crime.. And besides, what justice will we give to the victims by pardoning such a man. Over 257 died, while 100s suffered grave injuries. Ever wondered how depressed and left out they would feel, if Yakub Memon wasn’t hanged?”
The man pauses and then concurs, “Yes sir, you are right. Those souls who died seek justice. Those who survived were left with terrible wounds, burns and bruises. We must not forget their pain. They deserve justice too.”
It was here that I recited the most cliched and most abused line from quran ,’If you kill one innocent man, then you kill all mankind’
“If Islam says that, then the 257 people killed and over 600 injured, weren’t they innocent? What was their crime? They were just going to work to earn their daily bread? Tiger Memon killed innocent people who had nothing to do in the burning down of his factory by Hindu fundamentalists during the 1992 riots. ”
“Thoroughly, agree with you. What these people (terrorists) did was barbaric and there ought to be no sympathy for anyone who committed this crime. However, shouldn’t the law be equal for all. Death penalty wasn’t given in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination or Indira Gandhi assassination”.
(He was referring to Devinder Singh Bhullar in the 1993 Delhi Bomb blast case and the commuting of death sentence of Nalini, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case)
I told him, “Look brother, I agree with you that certain political parties lend their support to such accused on political or religious grounds. Yes, Nalini was pardoned after Sonia Gandhi herself appealed for clemency for her husband’s killer purely because Nalini had a young daughter . But you see Rajv Gandhi wasn’t the only man killed in the Sriperumbudoor blast. What about justice for the others? Shouldn’t the government have taken their views too before pardoning Nalini?”
Nodding in approval, he said, “Yes sir. You are absolutely right. No convict should get any political or religious backing.”
At this juncture, we arrived at my society. I thanked him for listening to me patiently. He too expressed the same and before leaving, he revealed his name as Mohammad Yasin.
“Mohammad saab, aapse milke bahot accha laga.” . Mr.Yasin too acknowledge the same.
As I came home, my mind was drawn to a friend, who has severed ties with me, disappointed with my views over the debate on the death penalty to Yakub Memon. What was first a discussion on facebook, turned into a SMS war, wherein this girl even resorted to cheap personal and professional comments. Most of the texts from her side were devoid of rationality.
Anyways, but I had qualms over her points of views, after all, like every Indian, she, too, enjoys freedom of expression. But I was flabbergasted by her sweeping statement that ‘INDIA IS A COUNTRY WHERE MUSLIMS AND MINORITIES WILL NEVER GET JUSTICE’. She slammed the Supreme Court verdict even without reading it properly. Though, he did read columns of pseudo-seculars who backed Yakub Memon. Interestingly, she failed to read the Supreme Court verdict in totality but didn’t bother to pass her judgment based on few irrelevant columns.
To correct her, I reminded her that one of the accused in the 1993, Mumbai blasts case, who went by aliases of Baadshah Khan/Nasir Khan had turned an approver. He served out his jail term and today he roams a free man, one who educates his children and youth around to not be misguided by evil like Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim.
I was pleasantly surprised when Mohammad Yasin was aware of Nasir Khan’s story. He dismissed the theory by my friend that MUSLIMS will never get justice in India. Now, perhaps, Mr.Yasin may not be that well educated like my friend (Not that my friend is good at her language or journalistic skills) but I was so impressed with his sense of objectivity. As opposed to him, my friend simply shut all doors of objectively and in stead, treated this case as an issue of religious bias.
Well, I discussed the same things with my friend ,as I did with Mr.Yasin, a stranger. But strangely, a man who I met for just ten minutes was able to have a consensus with me, but a girl who I’ve know for 7 years, chose to sever ties with me.
Phew! I’m not going to lose my sleep over it. But this issue has made me ponder, who is the real Muslim? Who is the real Indian Muslim? Certainly, not my friend, but ironically, he goes by the name of Mohammad Yasin. And I’m sure India has millions like him.