The Sham of Indian Liberalism

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Imagine- an individual in the United States is convicted of aiding and facilitating a terror attack in which more than 250 innocent civilians are killed and nearly 1000 injured. Further, the individual is known to have acted at the behest of the US’s greatest enemies and was sheltered by them post the attacks. The individual is sentenced to death. It is hard to contemplate that anyone in the Unites States would oppose the verdict and shamelessly try to foment sympathy for the convict with a slew of articles and op-eds in reputed news outlets.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what has been happening in India over the past couple of days. The individual concerned in this case is one Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, brother of one of India’s most wanted criminals, Tiger Memon. Yakub is accused of having facilitated the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, one of the most horrific terror attacks India has seen on her soil. The evidence against him was overwhelming enough for the highest court of the country to hand him the death sentence and reject his mercy petition. And out came the “liberal” outpouring of sympathy for Memon.

Over the last week, we have been subjected to numerous articles by a section of the self-appointed liberal intelligentsia of the country, arguing against the death sentence. The arguments range from highlighting how “great” an individual Yakub is and his educational qualifications and his grasp of the English language, to bizarre ones like the fact that his apprehension was a result of his own volition. One version is that after fallout with his Pakistani masters, he wanted to surrender and returned to India and that was when he was arrested at the New Delhi railway station. However, the question is- does the fact that he might have wanted to surrender absolve him of his crimes? Does the fact that he is a well-educated, English speaking character exempt him from the punishment for his crimes? This is where the so-called liberals of India are failing India. While I do not subscribe to the idea of India being compared to the West, I feel the opening analogy is apt given our obsession with emulating the west, particularly the United States in our daily lives.

We celebrate India being a liberal, secular democracy, on similar lines as the United States and other western nations. However, we have developed our own definitions of liberal and secular. I don’t think I need to substantiate the argument that Indian secularism is limited to calling the other communal. Anybody looking at the record of the so-called seculars will know what I mean by that. Unfortunately, Indian liberalism has also metamorphosed into, what many would call, “minority appeasement”.

The argument came from one Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, an MP from Hyderabad, whose personal record of secularism is not exactly immaculate. Mr. Owaisi’s favorite one-liner on any television show is – “terrorism has no religion”. But suddenly, Yakub, a convicted terrorist, becomes a Muslim? Mr. Owaisi isn’t exactly the epitome of liberalism either, however, similar arguments have been made by others who have pointed out that the assasins of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and former CM of Punjab, Beant Singh have not been hung yet. So why the hurry to hang Yakub? Now we have a group of “eminent” citizens, including former justices of the Supreme Court, usual suspects like Mani Shanker Aiyer and the Leftist leaders and others arguing that the death sentence is “grossly unfair, arbitrary and excessive”.

And what is most unfortunate is that all this is being done in the name of liberalism. When did liberalism become akin to bending over backwards and ensuring that people have sympathy for an individual who showed none to his 250 innocent Indian victims? When did liberalism come to mean holding a brief for a terrorist?

This is setting a bad precedent. This is telling all our enemies, who harbor nefarious designs against our country that they may go ahead and commit atrocities against Indians. And Indians will ensure that they are not punished for it. It is not about one Yakub Memon, but the larger question of how a nations addresses violent extremism. The fact that the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh have not met their destiny is regrettable in a country like ours. But that cannot be an excuse to extend sympathy to Memon. This is pernicious to the great Indian Republic and the secure future that we wish to build. The garb of liberalism cannot and should not be used to stir up compassion for a mass murderer and anyone doing so should be condemned. Yakub Memon is a traitor who was instrumental in carrying out Pakistan’s heinous plans against India and no mercy should be shown to him.

Written by Arpan Mukherjee Das

I am a PhD candidate in Economics in the United States. I interest myself in international economic and political relations, with focus on India and the larger South Asia region. 
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Indian Exponent: The Sham of Indian Liberalism
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