By Danish Ahmad Khan
Yaqub Memon was finally sent to the gallows on July 30, 2015 thus handing partial justice to the victims of ghastly 1993 Bombay blasts in which 257 people were killed and over 900 injured. The hanging of this conspirator was long overdue, but the lethargic judicial system took 22-long-years to implement its decision. Though the myth of “Justice delayed is justice denied” has been shattered at least in Yaqub Memon’s case and his hanging is welcome.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hang Yaqub Memom witnessed a heavily polarized and communalized debate, at least on the social media. It was veritably a tug of war between Muslims and Hindus. There were attempts by Muslims to portray Yaqub Memon as an innocent wrongly framed by the law enforcing agencies, while frenzied Hindus were baying for Yaqub’s bIood. Even I was not spared when I wrote a Facebook post on July 23 thus: “It is unfortunate to see some Muslims protesting the decision to execute Yaqub Memon, a conspirator in Mumbai blasts case. The issue is being communalized and being portrayed as if an innocent person is being put to death. This is shameful and condemnable. Such filthy mindset need to be reined in or else there’s lurking fear that all kinds of criminals and conspirators in terrorism activities would be supported as is happening in the case of Yaqub Memon. I don’t see anything wrong in his execution and nor consider it a legal murder by the State. He should have been hanged long before. Where were human rights activists when hundreds of innocent people lost their lives at the hands of these butchers? In fact government should make a law to put so-called human rights activists behind bars when supporting terrorists or anti-social elements.” This Facebook post raised an unprecedented furor and drew several people in the debate. I was dubbed an RSS agent and a person who doesn’t believe in democratic rights or justice.
The debate also saw some Muslim leaders inflaming passion on TV channels, and making best efforts to communalize the issue and cited it as yet another discriminatory practice against Muslims by the government of the day. One such rabble rouser All India Majlise Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi was seen openly pleading Yaqub Memon’s case on TV channels and newspapers/magazines terming it as a “travesty of justice”. Mr. Owaisi insisted that “though Yaqub Memon was involved, but did not deserve capital punishment.” He also went on to say that the 1993 Bombay blasts accused Yaqub Memom was given the capital punishment because he had “no political backing”.
But when it came to providing “political backing” to terror accused Yaqub Memon, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi chose to play double game with Muslims and in the process his double-facedness was exposed. The Indian Muslim Observer is in possession of a letter written on Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha letterhead dated 28th July 2015 addressed to the Hon’ble President of India appealing for granting the clemency to Yaqub Memon under Article 72 enshrined in the Constitution of India and commuting the death sentence into life imprisonment. The letter was signed by Muslim MLAs/MLCs/Ex-MLAs/Municipal Councillor of Maharshtra. The signatories include Arif Naseem Khan (MLA and Ex-Minister), Amin Patel (MLA), Aslam Shaikh (MLA), Shaikh Asif Shaikh Rashid (MLA), Muzaffar Hussain (MLC), Husnabano Khalife (MLC), Yusuf Abrahani (Ex-MLA) and Javed Juneja (Municipal Councillor).
Quite surprisingly though, despite Asaduddin Owaisi’s famous statement of Yaqub Memon being a “Muslim” accused and “no political backing” for him, his own AIMIM party MLAs in Maharashtra Assembly – Waris Yusuf Pathan (from Byculla constituency in Mumbai) and Imtiyaz Jaleel (from Aurangabad Central constituency) – reportedly failed to provide their own “political backing” by not signing the letter along with other Muslim legislators. This also shows that Asaduddin Owaisi acted like a typical politician, who prefers to tell lies and follow the policy of “running with the hare and hunting with the hound”, and always ready to incite the passion of Muslims by his rhetoric and doing exactly the opposite as is evident in the case of Yaqub Memon.
Apart from Asaduddin Owaisi’s theatrics, the Yaqub Memon hanging issue has also exposed the community media in India or those being run by NRIs from abroad. The handful of community media such as ‘The Milli Gazette’ (run by Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, President of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat), US-based ‘Two Circles’ (run by an NRI), Jamaat-e Islami Hind-run ‘India Tomorrow’, ‘Muslim Mirror’ and ‘Ummid’, have deliberately chosen not to expose this double game of Asaduddin Owaisi and failed to highlight the news prominently. They have also in the process failed to elicit opinion or publish stories regarding the ordeals faced by the 1993 Bombay blasts victims or their kin as is the usual journalistic practice. Interestingly, all these community media outlets are being run by those who “claim” to be journalists but are essentially non journalists with no professional degree or prior grooming in the field of journalism whatsoever.
In any case, Yaqub Memon’s death sentence and hanging shouldn’t have been communalized or polarized nor the accused conspirator deserved a hero’s farewell with over 9,000 people attending his funeral. A terror accused should not have been seen as an ordinary criminal as a large section of Muslims active on the social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp portrayed him to be. This was quite unfortunate.
After all, should Muslims now expect anything more from the likes of leaders such as Asaduddin Owaisi, who is being projected to be the only savior of Muslims in India today? Will the non journalists’ leading lights of community media shed their biased attitude, stop portraying Muslims as the eternal victims, and report fairly and with complete objectivity? They should also refrain from shielding people like Asaduddin Owaisi and expose the nefarious goings on, whether it is within the community or otherwise. Indian Muslims at least deserve a fair and honorable treatment at the hands of their very own!!
[Danish Ahmad Khan, currently based at New Delhi, is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his Mobile # +91 9990179721]