Monday, 13 May 2013

Is Himayat Baig’s Conviction Justified?

So, if we turn a few pages of our mythology books, it is evident that whenever a demon attacked Heaven, the Devs chanted the name of the supreme power to save them from the terror. The Hindu Gods would then measure their steps to Heaven from their meditation and bless the creases on the foreheads of the Devs. The Asurs would thence be slayed to be parceled to the deepest pits of hell. Not once, but as many times as the Asurs dared to feast on the fears of the innocent Devs. Their mantra clearly would have been: You do evil, you get evil. Justice shall be delivered.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, we mortals face the perpetrators of evil every day. We become victims of the terror as there is no other way, or is there? So we look expectantly at the doors of the state to do something and end this torture. The state measures its steps rather irksomely, such that the dead from the attacks are dead and their families are left with their death anniversaries and the remaining unaffected mortals wait for the next terror attack to pick up the pieces of the memories left and carry on with this wicked cycle of terror. Sad state of affairs. The Gods above must be waiting for us to solve our problems by ourselves, I suppose. Therefore, no intervention. Therefore, the decrease of faith in God.

But I digress. A 2010 terror attack got headway with Mirza Himayat Baig, the lone convicted accused in the German Bakery blast case, getting sentenced to death by a Pune Sessions Court. Thinking about Baig, I wonder if he knew there would be so many sections that he would be held guilty under. I wonder if he were given the power to see his future once and had known he would be caught and convicted, would he still have assented to carry out the attack? I wonder if he were given a dark, aloof cell to be confined to for the rest of his life, would he have felt guilty about what he did – would he have apologized to the innocent lives and hopes he brutally murdered? I also wonder, though, if he really deserves a death punishment.

He wasn’t alone, after all, in this barbaric plan of attack. A conspiracy like this needs more minds and hands than one person’s. He is the lone convicted, yes. But there are many other names. The conspiracy that took place in Sri Lanka, according the police officials, has many other conspirators who haven’t been brought to court. What if he was not in Pune at the time of the blast as Baig’s counsel, Mr. Rahman, appeals? Of course, he could have been a conspirator and not have executed the plan but the possibility isn’t too obvious. There are others who are roaming free.

Not being an insider to the official reports, I have all the information a common citizen has. I reckon, if the state finds a criminal to be guilty without a speck of doubt and finds the crime unforgivable, the criminal should not be given an easy escape from the law. It’s unfortunate how many get away with nothing but minor charges on them because of high connections and good amount of money to bribe the hungry system. Those who find no way to escape get into the clutches of death. How is justice then delivered?

If I support the decision of a terrorist being hanged, it does not make me an advocate of violence. I don’t say it on some whim of ‘Kill all who are evil’ to save my head from thinking much. Deep inside, I do believe that death penalty leaves us morally bankrupt. I believe they will get what they give via their own Karma. I believe people can change. I believe ‘An eye for an eye turns the whole world blind’. I believe capital punishment is murder. I believe death is not a deterrent in cases like terrorism and rapes. I believe a death penalty to the convicts can bring a little closure to the case, but it cannot bring the dead back from the grave.

There are many who advocate that life imprisonment would have been a moral solution unlike death penalty. Their criteria are –
Two wrongs don’t make a right. They kill, we kill: what does that leave us with? Murders all around, for different reasons, of course.
The convict could have been innocent. There have been incidents in the past where after the execution was done, the innocence was proved. Now if it were a life imprisonment or any other punishment, the apologies could still hold good. After a person is executed, apologies cannot do any magic.

While I agree with the above points, one cannot deny the fact that the families of the 17 who were killed would find some sort of relief with Baig’s death sentence. German Bakery, one of the landmarks of Pune, would always remind the visitors and customers of the blotted day in history when Pune lost its title of a safe city. Even a refurbished bakery wouldn’t be able to capture that lively essence of the good old days when this city was not on the radar of terror attacks. Years go by, memories fade, lives are lived anyway, but the hollowness that a blast leaves shall be understood by the families that have lost not just a member but a bundle of hopes. The void that seeps into conversations shall be understood by their friends who can no more crack jokes on them as after a little mention of their names, a silent tear follows. Always.

Taking everything into consideration, I still don’t know if capital punishment is right or if it’s wrong. I cannot give my word. But ask yourself – if there were a wolf that lived on children’s mass and was hunting for your own child’s blood, would you let it roam free? Or would you cage it, when you know that it might get released someday, somehow, maybe by some unknown force? Or would you rather kill it so that your own child and the other little ones live safely?

Also published in Youth ki Awaaz
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