The BJP has hit out at Hours after the legal battle ended and 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon was hanged, the political battle began as the Congress and BJP engaged in a war or words.
Stating that the government and judiciary had shown “exemplary urgency and commitment” in Yakub’s case, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said: “I hope similar commitment of government and judiciary will be shown in all cases of terror, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.”
His statement was seen as a reference to the “Hindu terror” cases. “I have my doubts… the way the cases of other terror accused are being conducted. Let’s see… the credibility of the government and judiciary is at stake,” said Singh.
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Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said he was “saddened by the news” of Yakub’s hanging and spoke against capital punishment. “State-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too… There is no evidence that death penalty serves as a deterrent. To the contrary, in fact, all it does is exact retribution… unworthy of a government,” he said.
“We must fight against terrorism with all the means at our command. But cold-blooded execution has never prevented a terror attack anywhere. I’m not commenting on the merits of a specific case: that’s for the Supreme Court to decide. The problem is death penalty, in principle and practice,” he said.
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Hitting back at the Congress, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the “irresponsible statements… with regard to the punishment given to the accused of the 1993 Mumbai blasts… raises a cause of concern… we expect Sonia Gandhi to clarify before the nation.”
Meanwhile, injecting a religion angle, Singh tweeted: “What a coincidence. Funerals of two Indian Muslims on the same day. Dr (APJ Abdul) Kalam who has made every Indian proud of his achievements for India. And Yakub Memon who has by being associated with those involved in terror brought shame to the whole community.”
The Congress distanced itself from Tharoor and Singh’s remarks, saying these were “individual opinions”. “BJP leaders have also raised it. It doesn’t make it a BJP position. Some people in the Congress have expressed their personal views. That is not the position of the Indian National Congress. We believe in the rule of law. And we believe in justice,” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.
“In this particular case also, it has been adjudicated. The due processes of law have been completed. We have always respected the Supreme Court and our high courts…they may take time in the dispensation of justice but finally it is done in a manner that there is no question mark… Nobody can dispute the correctness of our legal system,” he said.
“People have individual views. That does not mean that questions should be asked of the leadership. There are many in the BJP also who have spoken out. Shatrughan Sinha has spoken out, others have spoken out. Are we then demanding answers from Narendra Modi because he is the leader of the BJP parliamentary party. They should think twice before pointing fingers at us,” said Sharma.
Randeep Surjewala, head of the Congress’s communications department, said Ram Jethmalani and Shatrughan Sinha had also made some remarks. “Individuals can have their views. It is neither our opinion, nor can it be the opinion of the ruling party. Their opinion can be personal,” he said, adding that Yakub Memon was given punishment in accordance with the law. “The President dismissed his mercy petition twice. Maharashtra Governor dismissed his mercy petition also. So we see the punishment as a fructification of rule of law and judicial process of the country.”