At the crack of dawn when Yakub Memon walks his way to eternal freedom (read gallows) tomorrow, the sun shall set for many who believed in him and thought of him as a principled human being. The question shall arise in the back of our minds, was justice truly served or was it denied? Is the convict paying for being Tiger Memon’s brother?
The story goes back to 1993. On March 10, 1993 the Memon family fled India. This happened two days before the gruesome Bombay Blasts of 1993 which tore apart Mumbai on that black Friday, leaving 257 people dead and over 700 others injured. The case was brilliantly detected by the Mumbai Police and the Memon family came to known as “India’s First Family of Terror.”
But the question lingers on! Was the role of Yakub Memon big enough to warrant a death sentence given the 100’s others were let off with meagre punishments?
Let’s not forget that Yakub was not the main conspirator of the Mumbai serial blasts and therefore, was not deserving of what was called the ‘supreme punishment.’ After his family sought refuge in Pakistan, he dared to escape the house arrest there so that he could prove his family’s innocence and they could live a life of respect. He was the first accused to call Pakistan’s bluff. His wife said in her first media interview after the judgement, “We didn’t like it there — we were missing our homeland,” she continued, “And we did not want to live with a false sense of shame.” His wife still pleads for his life asking the judiciary to spare his life if not his honour and innocence.
Now there are various contradictory accounts on how he came to India. Rumour has it, he struck a ‘deal’ with the intelligence agencies and probably under it, he took the decision to not reveal some data, hoping his co-operation would help him through his trial and he will be dealt compassionately. Hence, the conflicting tales of his entry into India. It seems Yakub abided by his promise. It was the Indian government that went back on its promise because it all makes perfect sense, like a full circle. Yakub Memon wouldn’t have returned to his homeland if he wasn’t certain of his sinlessness and had some protection promised given the learned man he was.
It’s obvious that the Memon family had regrets. They wanted to subject themselves to Indian judicial system because they had faith in its righteousness. Well, the tables have turned now. Yakub’s reasoning was that only Tiger was involved in terrorist activities and to prove the chastity of the rest of the family he wanted them to be available to the Mumbai Police for questioning.
Mainly, Yakub had three charges against him.
One: He was convicted of financing the blasts through co-accused Mulchand Shah and the firm M/s Tejarat International owned by his absconding brother Ayub Memon who was in the hawala (money laundering) business with Shah.
Second, Yakub has been convicted for providing tickets to the co-accused to travel to Pakistan for arms training.
Third, he has been found guilty of possessing arms and ammunition and distributing them among the co-accused, besides purchasing the vehicles used in the explosions.
Many of the co-accused similarly charged have been given 5 to 14 years jail term or less- none a death sentence. Did he do anything particularly different to merit this as retribution? No. He did not. He was not equally responsible as his brother.
Even Salman Khan had some pretty interesting inputs to give though he received some backlash for it. His claim is right. He wanted Tiger to be brought to India and hanged so that his brother doesn’t have to pay for his crimes. Is prudence really lost when a country is penalizing an innocent just because of his blood relation?
Death sentence is reserved for the ‘rarest of rare’ crimes. Verdict is impending. Was this the ‘rarest of rare’ crime or Dawood Ibrahim/ Tiger Memon should have been on their way to the gallows on the 30th? It’s on you to decide!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.