There are basically four strains of argument being presented in the Yakub Memon case; one that his brother Tiger was the main perpetrator and the rest, including Yakub mere accomplices; the other that a Muslim is being targeted for his religion, the third that the death penalty is a monstrous construct and must be done away with; and the fourth, which has gained some traction owing to a purported letter from the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) functionary B Raman, disclosed recently, that Memon had turned approver and turned himself in and must be accorded a safety net.
The first two positions are severely jaundiced, one for the lack of knowledge of law and the other for its communal bias. The third is debilitated by the timing - asking for a ban just around the time a high profile hanging is upon us is plainly disingenuous and insincere about the issue, which is otherwise perhaps worthy of a debate.
The fourth argument merits more attention because it impinges on matters of state and particularly when a former RAW operative assigned to the Pakistan desk provides the grist. But there are crucial flaws in the manner Raman has argued his points and worse, in the way his weak exhortations are been magnified by willing intermediaries and moist-eyed liberals who miss the Karachi halwa.
For one, Raman categorically denounces the idea that Yakub handed himself over. He, in fact, underlines that Yakub attempted to flee Nepal back to Karachi when he was apprehended: “He had come to Kathmandu secretly from Karachi to consult a relative and a lawyer on the advisability of some members of the Memon family, including himself, who felt uncomfortable with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, returning to India and surrendering to the Mumbai Police. The relative and the lawyer advised him against surrender due to a fear that justice might not be done to them. They advised Yakub to go back to Karachi. Before he could board the flight to Karachi, he was picked up by the Nepal police on suspicion, identified and rapidly moved to India.”
Any suggestion of Yakub cooperating with India was a function of his arrest and limited choices, not the pleasure of his heart. Raman categorically admits that he was not involved in this part of the operations. “He cooperated with the investigating agencies and assisted them by persuading some other members of the Memon family to flee from the protection of the ISI in Karachi to Dubai and surrender to the Indian authorities. The Dubai part of the operation was coordinated by a senior officer of the IB, who was then on deputation to the ministry of external affairs. Neither the R&AW nor I had any role in the Dubai part of the operation.” The subsequent surrender was not on account of Yakub’s grand realisation of the error of his ways but the result of the IB’s mandated attempts to nail all the culprits, using all the means available to them.
In fact, Raman clearly indicts Yakub for his role in the blasts and cooperating with Pakistan: “There is not an iota of doubt about the involvement of Yakub and other members of the family in the conspiracy and their cooperation with the ISI till July 1994. In normal circumstances, Yakub would have deserved the death penalty if one only took into consideration his conduct and role before July 1994.” Raman only falters, as most do, at the altar of hindsight. His view bears no standing by his own standards on pure facts. Disjointed readings of his letter must not be allowed to discredit the judicial integrity of this case.
In the present context, the law of the land must be upheld. The life sentence and the death penalty are both in force. The court knows the difference between the two and has cognisance of the facts. It has ruled. And ruled again. Over 20 years have passed in ensuring that no doubt remians. A mercy petition has been made to the highest executive authority of the country. In its best judgment, it has ruled in favour of going with the verdict. To attempt to question the impending is to question the validity of the entire judicial system.
Complicity of this nature is more than a crime. Let us put it this way. Yakub Memon and his family had the power to defuse Tiger Memon’s plot to cause mayhem in Mumbai. Tiger’s plot would have fallen by the wayside if they had refused to join him. Not only did they NOT do it, they assisted him in achieving the goal. In a strange but simple way, Yakub Memon is a bigger criminal for extending the scale of the killings across the town with logistic support. Tiger alone could have killed a dozen, maybe. But thanks to Yakub, he killed 257.