intersectional revolutionary journal

Missile Man vs the Muslim Man

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

3 Responses to “Missile Man vs the Muslim Man”

  1. Sreekant Mishra

    It is extremely difficult to convince educated people with good command over expression that certain things are bad and deserve no mercy no matter how you pain the story. Comparing Dr. kalam and yakub is extremely… I do not know what. .In that sense, Einstein’s E=MC2 led to the building of Nuclear Bomb. Should he have been hanged too. Some people never deserve mercy. How do you show mercy to people who kill innocents, who rape and mutilate women. How do you show mercy to people who behead volunteers/journos in full public view. These bloody cowards deserve the stringent punishment. It is extremely absurd to compare a nuclear scientist with an accomplice of a heinous crime against the state. it may be true that justice has not been done to many people involved in such dastardly acts, yet it does not mean that the culprit should be let away. As per your argument; every soldier who kills in the border is a killer. Not acceptable. Not to me. There is a line between patriotism and mass murder. Want to write volumes over this, but out of time…

  2. JK

    You have less knowledge of facts…You must be a pseudo person with pseudo knowledge.

  3. vikrant

    Well my take is we are debating it on facts selectively chosen to support view points…. firstly the hindutva tag for kalam… it is surprising to be thinking on those lines every thing in India is not divided on religious lines…. not yet thankfully(incidentally India is home to world’s second largest Muslim population n I have fellow soldiers with whom I wouldn’t bat an eye lid to go to the world’s end debate or no debate)… now the mercy petition was rejected by pranab da a life time congress man after 21 yrs how much longer does the judicial process need to grind…. n to imagine everyone (wide mass of Indian democracy)conspired together to take him to the gallows for over 21years involving govts with various ideological lineages n multiple levels of judicial process is granting too much to the Indian state which definitely is not the best example of national coordination (which I wish we had). Just because kalam masterminded WMD devp we need not vilify him… if the world is not moving towards 100 percent wmd reduction its options for us in a nuclear neighbourhood aren’t many…. by that definition every soldier fighting under his country ‘s flag is just another mercenary who likes to do all the killing which fortunately is not true.
    Though I do not rejoice his hanging but I don’t regret it either… better late than never… n lets not justify YM’S act in the backdrop of Mumbai roits because if every one who perceives to be wronged starts exercising his own options we would have anarchy n YM’slogic that he knew nothing n only did the funding is amazing he really must have been a Nobel Indian to be ignorant about where his hard earned money was going…. that kind of couldn’t care less attitude about one’s earnings comes to amazingly few Indians.
    Best way to substantiate one’s stand on capital punishment is to keep the debate alive so as to change the law before the next hanging n not drum up emotional outbursts in TRP hungry media every time the last hanging has taken place.


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