A war of words broke out over the hanging of Yakub Memon in 1993 blasts case today with Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Shashi Tharoor raising questions on the credibility of government and judiciary and BJP slamming their comments as “bizarre” and “insult” to people.
As the hanging reignited the death penalty debate, the unseemly row was triggered after Singh said government and judiciary should display the same “exemplary urgency and commitment” in all terror cases irrespective of the religion of the accused and Shashi Tharoor commenting that “state-sponsored” killing diminishes us all by reducing us to “murderers too”.
The CPI-M termed the execution of Yakub Memon as “miscarriage of justice” while the CPI said the death penalty should be done away within the country.
AIMIM leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said the government should ensure death sentence in all similar cases.
“Death sentence should also be given to Babu Bajrangi, Maya Kodnani, Lt Col Purohit and Swami Aseemanand,” he said. While Bajrangi and Kodnani are accused in the Gujarat riots, Lt Col Purohit and Swami Aseemanand are accused in the Malegaon blasts.
In a series of tweets, Digvijay Singh said, “Yakub Memon hanged. Exemplary urgency and commitment has been shown by Govt and Judiciary in punishing an accused of Terror. I hope similar commitment of Govt and Judiciary would be shown in all cases of terror irrespective of their caste creed and religion.”
“I have my doubts the way the cases of other Terror accused are being conducted. Let’s see. Credibility of the Govt and Judiciary is at stake,” Singh said.
Shashi Tharoor said 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”.
He, however, later added that he was not going into the merits of the Yakub case but was opposed “to the principle and practice of the death penalty in our country”.
The remarks by Singh and Shashi Tharoor led to angry ripostes from the BJP.
Union Minister Arun Jaitley said “irresponsible” statements by Congress leaders with regard to Mumbai blast accused were a cause of concern. “We expect Sonia Gandhi to clarify before the nation,” he said.
BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said Congress leaders’ remarks underlined the conflicting voices in the opposition party over the issue of terrorism. “He (Tharoor) is insulting the peace-loving people who want to get rid of terrorism.”
Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said he was shocked by Shashi Tharoor’s comments and termed them as “bizarre”.
In an editorial in the CPI(M) organ ‘People’s Democracy’, Politburo member Prakash Karat said “the execution of Yakub Memon is a miscarriage of justice.”
“Law has taken its course in the Yakub case. But the same determination should be shown for other cases as well to maintain unity and sovereignty of the country,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said both the Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Shashi Tharoor have questioned the SC verdict which is a contempt of court and demanded their apology.
“#YakubHanged -Both @digvijaya_28 and #ShashiTharoor have in a way questioned SC’s verdict. It is contempt of Court. They must apologise,” Javadekar tweeted.
“#YakubVerdict – The two Cong leaders have in a way made mockery of justice 257 victims of Mumbai Blasts have got after 22-year-long wait,” he further added.