Don’t hang Yakub: B Raman’s testimony offers fresh evidence, mitigating circumstances must be considered

B RamanBefore going ahead with the hanging of Yakub Memon it is essential to review testimony that has just come into the public domain from B Raman, doyen of Indian intelligence who also played a crucial role in bringing Memon and his family back to India after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Raman expressed the view that strong mitigating circumstances in Yakub’s case are such that he “does not deserve to be hanged”. Reportedly, Yakub had received assurances of leniency from Indian investigators and it was this that prompted him to consider returning to the country.

While there’s evidence to suggest that Yakub – knowingly or unknowingly – played a supporting role in the terror plot, whose prime executors were his brother Tiger Memon together with gangster Dawood Ibrahim, it’s also the case that Yakub turned over a significant cache of documents and other material that helped unravel the terror plot and proved Pakistan’s complicity in the terror bombings that killed 257 people. Yakub’s full cooperation with investigators, along with assistance rendered to them in persuading other members of the Memon family to escape ISI’s tutelage and come to India to face justice, should be factored into the punishment meted out to him.

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Besides, carrying out the death sentence would undermine India’s fight against terrorism by closing the door for others who may have been lured into radical groups but want to turn back. In this respect, NIA has proposed to offer plea bargains to those accused in terror cases to expedite investigations. Of course such leniency can’t be granted to those directly responsible for terror acts. But those who are privy to terror conspiracies can be turned into informants and assets given the right incentives. However, if Yakub is hanged, the efficacy of plea bargains will have been seriously undermined along with Indian ability to crack terror cases in future.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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