Saswat Pattanayak on Killing by the State

Saswat Pattanayak is a known voice of humanitarianism. He is known as a campaigner against capital punishment, against State becoming a killer. His views on final punishment given to Yakub Memon this morning in social media call for serious cogitation. I have picked up his words for esteemed visitors to these pages.

(Subhas Chandra Pattanayak)

There is no need for blame games, now that Yakub Memon has been killed by the Indian State. And there is no irony in Kalam’s funeral being held on the same day either. Nations that worship missile men don’t get to preach nonviolence and forgiveness at the same time. Just like Mukherjee, Kalam too had rejected mercy pleas. Just like Kalam, K. R. Narayanan also had rejected mercy pleas. And before him, S.D. Sharma. In fact, the only one in recent times who did not supervise execution was the only woman president: Pratibha Patil, although that could have been purely incidental. All presidents across religions and political affiliations have bossed over death penalty executions in India.

Institutional killing of people by India is so random and considered so casually, that the country does not even have any official figures available towards that to critique. However, from limited available data, it appears that well over 2,100 prisoners have been executed in India since its independence. And of course, countless more are “encountered” for being “Maoists”, “terrorists” and being just whatever the heck. “Encounter cops” are rejoiced protagonists of Bollywood movies. Private militia continuing caste-based murders are paramilitary heroes. Death penalty is in vogue – inside courtrooms, on the streets and in newsroom debates.

It is sick, it is tragic, it is macho, it is justice, it is time for ladoo. Call it what we may, India is the citadel of death penalty. The discourse needs to go beyond blaming the president alone. Presidents are merely symbolic representatives of our collective thirst for blood. Expecting them to get merciful or failing which, be termed monstrous is an exercise in moral high ground marathon. Well before mercy petitions arrive, it is our holy cow enlightened judiciary that already seals the deal by not resisting the urge to issue death sentences, dozens after dozens. It is our wise judges who have taken it upto themselves to decide that death penalties are necessary. It is our Constitution that provides for such an unchallenged option. It is our cops and military who receive medals for being killers. It is our children who aspire to join these violent clubs of future in name of showing off patriotism.

As of now, 140 countries in the world have outlawed death penalty. India the land of nonviolence and peace howsoever fabled, continues to adamantly oppose every UN resolution that seeks to ban death penalty. And it is therefore all of us who still take pride in such a heartless immoral construct of a country. It is not Mukherjee alone. And it is our humanity that is hanged in installments. It is not an Afzal Guru, or a Yakub Memon alone.

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  1. Humanitarianism is remembered only for person who killed 300 and injured 700 in Mumbai blasts of 1993. What type of man he is who does not consider 1000 victims of blast as human beings or 30 lakh persons killed in partition with 180 lakh refugees?

    • Dear Sri Upadhyaya,
      Saswat Pattanayak is more humanitarian than you can imagine. He has elaborated why he rejects state terror. For the Mumbai blast, justice is not done, because the State has not yet found the real culprits who had created the climate congenial for perpetration of this offense. Have we located and punished the fellow(s) that had helped BCCI have its branch in Mumbai? Have we found why BJP withdrew its adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on BCCI at the last moment? So, don’t say that it was only Yakub and his co-fanatics that caused the Mumbai blast. We do not like to be made Bekub by the real culprits that had supported or were silent on BCCI. Are the fellows killing Indians in Indian soil in stage-managed encounters less inhuman than the terrorist in question? Are they punished? Human life is human life and extinguisher of human life is extinguisher of human life. State is supposed to be non-extinguisher of human life. In your yardstick, you cannot estimate how noble is Saswat Pattanayak.You know, I have regards for you personally. Please do not bruise me by hurling filthy words at someone I sponsor, on the basis of my personal study and observation, as a paragon of humanitarianism, in reaction to his principled posting on a topic. The second point is, killing during partition. The partition was masterminded by “Lala Malavya Gang” who were engineering communal hatred by puting the chopped off heads of swine in Mosques of the Muslims and of cows in the Temples of the Hindus. If that culminated in partition and mass annihilation, who is responsible? Instead of condemning Malavya, the present government decorated him posthumously with Bharata Ratna. Have we condemned it? In my view, whosoever kills a human being, be he a person or a State, is condemnable and I stoutly support Saswat Pattanayak over what he has posted.

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