Political responses over Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon’s hanging on Thursday morning were calibrated along sharply contrasting party lines, leading to heated exchanges through the day.
The Left parties asserted that the judicial process seemed to show a “majoritarian bias” that encourages radical groups to consolidate along sectarian lines. The ruling BJP, as well as the Congress, supported the sentencing and execution but divergent views expressed by a few Congress MPs provoked the BJP to accuse the former of insulting established judicial process in the country.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi demanded that the 2002 riot convicts Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi too “should hang” as their crimes were at par with what Yakub Memon did.
The Congress maintained a hard stand on terrorism, qualifying that incidents such as 1993 blasts in Mumbai or the recent strike in Gurdaspur “cannot be viewed through the lens of religion” and should be dealt with strictly. “Yakub Memon’s execution is the result of his exhausting all legal remedies, including the dismissal of his curative petition by the Supreme Court and two mercy petitions by the President,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
The BJP, however, took umbrage at the public condemnation of Memon’s hanging by Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor, Digvijay Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar. Digvijay Singh’s tweet on the “coincidence” that two Indian Muslims, Memon and former President APJ Abdul Kalam, were both being cremated the same day. “Such comments seek to question the judicial process. It is most regrettable and unfortunate that he (Digvijay) is seeking an alignment between the judicial process and politics,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.‘Justice system biased’
The CPI (M) leaders argued that the criminal justice system in India seems biased against Muslims. Linking the Srikrishna Committee report that probed the communal riots and serial blasts in Mumbai with the debate on Memon’s hanging, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the panel report clearly states that the communal riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition were the “causative factor” for the blasts in Mumbai. Maintaining the law had taken its course in the Yakub case, he argued that the Centre should show the same determination for other cases as well. “The justice delivery system must not only be impartial, but should be seen to be impartial so as to retain the people’s confidence in it,” he said and accused the Centre of going slow in Hindutva terrorism cases like Malegaon or Samjhauta Express blasts or the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
Owaisi said that while Memon was guilty, he did not deserve to be hanged. He also demanded the perpetrators of Gujarat riots in 2002 be meted out similar sentences. “Now let us see if Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi are punished in the same way,” Owaisi said.