In wake of Yakub Memon hanging, BJP MP Varun Gandhi says favours abolition of capital punishment

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Published: August 1, 2015 11:10:29 PM

In the midst of a raging debate over the death penalty to Mumbai terror attack convict Yakub Memon, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi has favoured abolition of capital punishment, saying 94 per cent of death row convicts are either Dalits or from minority communities.

In the midst of a raging debate over the death penalty to Mumbai terror attack convict Yakub Memon, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Varun Gandhi has favoured abolition of capital punishment, saying 94 per cent of death row convicts are either Dalits or from minority communities.

In an article ‘The Noose Casts A Shameful Shadow’ in Outlook, Varun has said that death penalty is an “anomaly” for the world’s largest democracy and “needs correction”.

His comments come close on the heels of another party MP Shatrughan Sinha signing a petition in favour of Memon, which was deprecated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who said that the act had “embarrassed” the party and was “extremely sad” that he went against the party line.

This also comes after Congress MP Shashi Tharoor faced BJP’s ire for saying that he was “saddened” by the news that “our government has hanged a human being. State-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too”.

Noting that India is one of the 58 countries where death penalty has been retained, Varun said the country needs to recognise the changing global scenario.

“The death penalty is not just a remedy available at the disposal of the law, but a human rights issue, beyond the pale of law. For the largest democracy, the death penalty is an anomaly. It needs correction. Many that live do deserve death. And some that die deserve life. One must not be too eager to deal out death in judgement,” he said in the article.

He added that capital punishment can have a socio-economic bias too and noted that 75 per cent of convicts in India on death row belong to the socially and economically marginalised classes. “94 per cent of death row convicts are Dalits or from the minorities,” he said.

“The poor consistently get the short end of the legal stick. The death penalty is a consequence of poor legal representation and institutional bias. The gallows remain a poor man’s trap,” he said.

Terming the hangman as “a disgrace to any civilised society”, Varun said, “Beyond its ethics, a basic unpredictability makes capital punishment a social evil.”

Arguing that with so few actually hanged, the Sultanpur MP said, “The death penalty’s rarity has essentially failed to achieve deterrence. Research has consistently failed to establish direct correlation between the death penalty and deterrence.”

Favouring abolition of death penalty, he said it is an international obligation.

He added that frequent punishments are a sign of weakness or slackness in our social fabric and our government.

“Condemning a terrorist to death is an easy path to take; but it creates martyrs. Keeping them in life imprisonment makes the cause less attractive and increases attrition. Their fame is diminished. Propaganda for jailed heroes is less potent,” he said.

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