Monday, 3 August 2015

The Noose Around Our Neck- Do we need the death penalty?

Right now, the most debated man in India is Yakub Memon. And the most sympathized family in India is the one he left behind! But the issue of Yakub's involvement or non-involvement has been lost somewhere in the ruckus surrounding the death penalty! Surely a prophetic society like ours cannot be so draconian! But then we are left with no deterrent to the so-called 'rarest of rare cases'. The dilemma we find ourselves in is actually a boon, because the pioneering feature of all cosmopolitan societies is pragmatic and amiable debates. The pure barbarianism in the death penalty is surely too big a dirt to not notice, but the question of what happens to these terrorists and non-humans remains aloof. Surely they can't be returned to the society they have so easily vitiated! And feeding them with our money when hundreds of law abiding citizens are left to their trenches, seems even more alienating! The answer to this tricky question inevitably varies from person to person and hence a quantitative solution seems non-viable. Such introspection in our society points out the maturity of our society and the moral ethos that we have been carefully nurturing for decades. Consensus is the answer to this tricky question. A public debate among citizens, politicians, lawyers, activists, and even children might actually provide a more admissible answer, than policies driven by adrenaline and emotion. The sheer anachronism of the act coupled with the international trends could put a stop to death penalties in India. But there has and is, only one advocate for death penalty to be maintained. But the 'boat of deterrence' is fast loosing it's steam and moral stock. Crimes are on the ascendancy, despite occasional death penalties. This either disproves the theory of deterrence, or brings us back to the archaic biblical question: DO YOU FEAR DEATH, SON?

Waging war against the Republic of India is the judgement term for terrorism. Surely a person has done enough here to deserve death! But if the death penalty is removed, then a terrorist who might have been a petty pauper in his home country, might end up in our prisons, surviving and stockpiling on our money! This is sheer absurdity for a country that is 'emerging' on the global power table. The best answer to terrorism and anti-national activities has been outright 'wipe-out'. While the USA took almost 10 years to avenge 9/11, the friendly visitor of 26/11 was lavishing in our prison, while our political class debated hanging a man of pure heart! Our population and it's size is literally intimidating, and the last thing we need is a revolting and anti-national one! Elimination is the only answer to peccancy like terrorism and brutal murder or inhuman rapes. If the society, is for humans, they why are men and women dubbed as 'barbaric' by the entire fabric of our society allowed to live on? At what point does a crime become worthy of a death penalty?  More specifically, how many lives are worth the life of the sinner in custody? The history of death penalty goes back many years and diverge into many forms. The images of the guillotine, the stinging chair, the simple noose, the firing squad, the breaking wheel, and the gas chambers are all representative of death being served to those worthy of it. Some of these like the stinging chair and the gas chambers obviously portray a deliberate beam of condemnation and hatred, but the soul of the monster remains the same. Such horrific methods can and should be withdrawn from all civilized societies, but the actual practice needs continuation. Never should a wrong idea be given, that you can get away with anything in the land of veneration that is India. The idea of awarding the death penalty goes above and beyond the notions of revenge and admonition. It is a legal sanction for a broad-spectrum consensus among the people of India. For anybody who is not willing to comply with the basic laws of humanity and co-existence, there is only one rebuke, and that is death.

But how does murdering a murderer make us any better than the devil himself. Doesn't the practice of death penalty cut directly at the root of basic human values like compassion, and forgiveness? If so, how can educated people like us support it? In more cases than not, the society creates the criminal, whom it then reprimands. The very practice of capital punishment, gives us an eerie of the savage times when justice was heartless, and proceedings were brief. Does the death of a criminal really solve what is wrong with our society? Or does it give us a 'feel good moment' which washes away the next day? The recent uproar about the hanging of Yakub Memon goes beyond the specifics of his role in the Bombay blast case and transcends into the generic indecision in our minds about the death penalty. A person irrespective of his actions should be given a chance to repent on his actions. This is a common directive across all religions, and religions determine a large portion of how we live our lives. Many supporters of the death penalty argue that it brings closure to the family's of the victim. But the reality, is that closure is chimera. You can chase it all you want....but a human life lost, is a human life lost! The most irrefutable and empirical proof in support of moratorium is in the huge international outcry against it.

At the end of the day, the Indian society is a really complex Goan curry that can befuddle even a Michelin starred chef. The only way to perfect it, and to balance it's flavor is by trying and failing. A mature and systematic debate is sure to draw optimistic conclusions on an issue that has our country at a very, very difficult cross road!

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