New Delhi : As the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the hanging of Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon, a majority of voices opined that death penalty was not the answer to terrorism, and underlined that he was not the main accused.
“You have to differentiate between this person, who has surrendered before the court and the other people who are in Pakistan,” CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat told IANS.
“The senior officer in-charge of the operation himself wrote that death sentence was not correct,” she said commenting on the resurfacing of an article by former RAW official B. Raman, who had written that Memon had entered into an agreement with the government.
Activist John Dayal said he was “deeply saddened at the court ruling”.
“I continue to oppose the barbaric concept of death penalty which has never deterred determined criminals. I am ashamed and embarrassed as a citizen at the gloating I see on TV channels. I wonder if this will expedite the process of justice for the victims of targeted violence against the citizens of India in 1984, 1993, 2002, 2008 and 2014”, said Dayal.
Hyderabad Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi said Memon was given the death sentence because he did not have any political backing, unlike the killers of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Owaisi, head of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, said if Memon was to be hanged, the perpetrators of the Babri mosque demolition should also be hanged.
“If capital punishment given by court of law can bring closure to innocent victims of a bomb blast, I demand capital punishment should also be given to actual sin, the demolition of the Babri Masjid,” he said.
Social activist Sandhya Gokhle echoed similar views.
“The decision is disappointing. Even yesterday, there was a difference of opinion amongst the judges. He was denied justice after spending 20 years in prison. They should have considered the RAW official’s letter. This is a vendetta because he is Tiger Memon’s brother, otherwise the other people associated with the case have not been given death penalty,” Gokhle said.
Author K.R. Meera, who wrote the book “Hang Woman”, said: “We can’t put an end to terrorism by hanging one person.”
Ved Marwah, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who was also the governor of Manipur and Mizoram, said the Supreme Court has done the right thing by not intervening at this late stage.
He, however, added: “My personal views on death penalty are that a life sentence should be the last recourse.”
There were a few others who supported the death penalty.
Former Border Security Force director general Prakash Singh said: “The Supreme Court has taken the right decision. A message should go to those carrying out terrorist activities.”
“In fact, I find it disappointing that in an incident where 250 people died, only one person could be hanged. It is also very late despite cases being registered under TADA.”
He also questioned the authenticity of the article by the ex-RAW official, saying its resurfacing after so many years was very “mysterious”.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut said: “Now they will know what is death, what is the pain. The pain Mumbai faced. The government and the Supreme Court have taken decisions in consonance with the views of the people of India.”