On 30th July 2015, at the age of 53 Yakub Memon was hanged amidst a lot of brooha; the hanging stirred an age-old debate, a debate about whether death penalty should be there; add to it this time if death penalty of Yakub Memon was nothing but a political agenda of a radical government, specifically targeting Muslims.
First things first as it reminded me of a debate on euthanasia and death penalty during my college and rest other politically correct topic in another post.
People argue against death penalty while sitting in plush restaurants sipping expensive wine and savouring on their favourite CHICKEN TIKKA (irony dies a slow death here). I am not against non-vegetarianism; I myself every now and then enjoy my butter chicken. Nor am I saying killing human is equivalent to killing a chicken or lamb or goat for that matter; but why not? We humans are hypocrites. We talk about one life being sacred and precious, but we don’t give a damn about other and all our talk of morality and humanity is as per convenience. A life is a life, whether it’s mine or yours (now please don’t get into defending non-vegetarianism mode) and every life is precious; but every life has a purpose and as per times we decide which life to take, which to spare and in this balance human life should weigh equally. If taking one life is justified, then so is another, and I am not just talking about justification of killing of millions of animals for our use, but we justify killing humans as well.
Euthanasia or mercy killing, as name suggests, is about taking human life. Advocates of euthanasia wants it to be legalized, they argue a terminally ill patient with medically no chance of survival should have the choice of giving up his life voluntarily to end the pain and suffering (remember Hrithik Roshan starrer Guzarish). Add to it, involuntary euthanasia where patient is not in a condition to make this decision and doctors and his family makes it for him, decision of killing him. Justifying killing for greater good is nothing new to us and we on numerous occasions defend and at times advocate it.
Death penalty is not the only state sponsored killing (jargon defining death penalty nowadays), we find nothing wrong in killing during war to protect our country. Infact killing during war is an act of bravery and soldiers are celebrated as glorified heroes for protecting mother nation. How is act of terror different from act of war? Act of terror, killing an innocent is a bigger crime than an actual war and if killing in war is justified then why not punishing act of terror? Moreover, if there was nothing wrong in killing terrorists during Gurdaspur or Mumbai terror attack, to save lives of innocent, then why killing Ajmal Kasab or Yakub Memon to punish killing innocents is against humanity?
But opponents often argue that death penalty as a punishment cannot be justified, as it doesn’t act as a deterrent and do not stop others from committing crime. First of all how can you be certain a crime was not committed because ‘would be’ perpetrator didn’t get scare from a prospective death penalty and stopped? To this question, they always brag about data from US, which shows states with death penalty doesn’t have a lower crime rate than states without death penalty (in US death penalty is not a federal punishment, but different states have different stand on it). Now this data, at best only proves no form of punishment acts as a deterrent and prevents crime; so by this logic all forms of punishment should be abolished. Lets have humanitarian society where there are no punishments for crime. Surely this will act as a deterrent.
Lastly, if death penalty is inhumane and should be abolished then how does a life imprisonment humane? A man spends major part of his life in prison. When released, he is an outcast. People won’t hire an ex-convict, socially he isn’t accepted, in all likelihood most of his family is vary of him. Glances of disgust and judgments greet him wherever he goes. You have ruined a man’s life and left him with a shameful life to live as a discarded being, scarred with a badge of convicted criminal on him. This sounds promising. Atleast he gets to live a depressed, pathetic life of misery. Ask me, a life imprisonment that ends’ resulting in release is a far more inhumane punishment then actual death penalty. Death doesn’t scare me, it’s the shame of living that does.
Amidst all this debate, I received a joke on wtsapp
Ques: Should there be death penalty in civil society?
Ans: No. A civil society should only have bomb blasts.
People argue about saving the life of those who neither have respect for human life nor any remorse for killing innocents. The reason they are facing death penalty is because they took innocent lives and for them this killing is justified. But we are not like them and we give them their day in court and only if proven guilty, in rarest of rare case, they are hanged till death. Perhaps you will find the argument to be shallow and revengeful. But if punishing a criminal is revengeful then all forms of punishments should be done away with. An aye for an eye doesn’t leave the whole world blind; but if it might then the onus of saving all eyes doesn’t lies only with me. Perhaps a blind world, having learnt its lesson would be a better place to live.
We can debate all we want, whether death penalty should be there or not. But in a country where the fear of law is negligible; no one is scared of law, because the law takes its own sweet time in punishing the guilty and then there are appeals re-appeals and when all fails human rights commission, NGOs, social workers, prominent personalities and politicians dying to save guilty; there should be death penalty not just to punish heinous crimes but to send a message that state isn’t soft on criminals, not anymore atleast.
All those arguing Yakub Memon’s mercy plea, should be sent to argue humanity with terrorists next time there is a Mumbai or Gurdaspur terror attack. Perhaps they will show some mercy to them.