By Amrita Misra
Red Monthly | July 2015
Two high profile Indian Muslim men were laid to rest this week. And one should say RIP for the departed souls. Actually one departed out of it’s own accord and the other was squeezed out by the machinery of a democratic government and objective judiciary (sic!).
One departed soul, honorary Dr. Kalam is hailed to be a physicist extraordinaire, a gentle soul, & president of the masses. The other, Yakoub Memon, alleged co-conspirator of the 1993 Mumbai blasts and brother of the alleged mastermind Tiger Memon. Y Memon a fellow Indian, was vilified as a terrorist, ISI agent and after 22-yrs in prison was sent to the gallows.
What amazes me is the contrast in our attitude towards both, despite the fact that both had someway worked towards mass murder. Now let’s deconstruct this a little further –
So what makes a ‘missile man’, as Dr. Kalam is labeled as? He was instrumental in, or mastermind of, developing a weapon of mass destruction, a.k.a. India’s first ballistic missile and subsequently Pokhran-II, a.k.a nuclear bombs.
Obviously India has not used a missile or nuclear bomb against any of its ‘natural’ enemies like Pakistan yet. But what is the thought of scientists and politicians behind developing such weapons of mass destruction? My guess is, to spectacularly eliminate maximum number of living things, yes, including human beings, in least amount of time. Now, I may be wrong, for all I know. But I’m for sure convinced that it’s not such a noble thought to emanate from gentle souls or genius minds, or is it?
I’ve been reading different takes on Y Memon’s hanging to death. And invariably the people crying foul on the sentencing and those against death penalty are being downright ridiculed and labeled terrorist sympathizers by our pseudo-nationalists. I say pseudo, because for me anyone who claims to love the country they are born to or have adopted, can claim to be patriots only if they uphold and facilitate those policies, cultural elements and heritage of the country that benefit the majority of the population and individually contribute towards and participate in the scientifically humane progress of their people. Capital punishment is as regressive as mass murder based. Yes, my definition is a mouthful but simpler than what is currently been exhibited and fostered by Hindutva dadagiri in India, which is pseudo nationalism.
To eradicate a disease, usually it is common sense to go to the root of it, i.e. to radically analyze the causes to devise an antidote. If it is to be believed that 1993 serial bomb blast was conceived and executed as a retaliation to 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, then hanging of Y Memon should have come after hanging of the masterminds of Babri Masjid demolition and riots thereafter. Communal attitude is a disease, communal violence is a symptom and ‘terrorism’ or state machinery against marginalized sections is the ultimate manifestation. Killing of Y Memon by the Indian state is not even an antidote to any aspect of this burgeoning communalism. Supreme Court of India has hanged the spirit of objective justice and constitutional rights of a citizen, yet again.
There is another aspect to the connection of these two men, the connection that made one an exemplary Indian and the other a (Muslim) terrorist. That connection is the rise of the saffron sentiment & power in India. Dr. Kalam rose to fame with the bi-finger victory sign of Vajpayee following the above mentioned missile/nuclear tests. Dr. Kalam was a favorite amidst the saffronites before becoming the people’s president. A lot of positive and populist quotes are attributed to him and in turn apparently inspired a generation. However, not a word about Gujarat riots and equally damning communal events & characters. He (a scientist) sought blessings from Shankracharya to RSS bigwigs instead. Yakoub Memon spent more than the proverbial life sentence in prison and despite new evidence with possible legal ramification to alter his death sentence, the BJP government could not curb its eagerness for Y Memon’s death.
Another thing that is important to note is that Dr. Kalam was against Capital Punishment, I just came to know of this. So people who are crying a river for Dr. Kalam’s passing should be ashamed of rejoicing at Yakoub Memon’s death by hanging at the hands of the Indian state, that Kalam once headed……just saying.
Amrita Misra is a conscientious objector to the racist, sexist, homophobic, sweatshop-laden and greed-driven world order. Hailing from Orissa, and living in New York, she identifies herself as a feminist of color. She can be found on amritamisra.com.