yakub memon

How We Made a Criminal into a Martyr

The ruckus behind Yakub Memon’s hanging had me baffled.

For someone who updates social media on issues, I was truly clueless about the entire hullabaloo. People had begun calling it an ‘injustice’, some others a travesty and a few others had gone to the extent of calling it a ‘shame to a democracy’.

Somewhere amidst this noise, I had to sit back and scratch my head. What did I really miss??


I can understand the call for abolishing death penalty.

That is a debate that has existed for long. Most nations that consider themselves ‘evolved’ or civilized have abolished it. I am not erudite enough to comment on the issue, I can’t claim to know the nuances of the debate.

What I do know, and am fully convinced about, is belief in the law of the land.

In a way, I was proud of the fact that a criminal was even given debate and discussion on a national scale. In most of our neighbouring countries, he would have been chopped to salad, and nobody would even know when it happened.

Of course, I do not endorse it, I’m merely stating the facts. The entire debate and discussion probably reflected our civility as a nation.


What disturbed me, however, was how nobody seemed to speak of his crimes anymore.

The only point of discussion was of him ‘helping’ Indian intelligence authorities in their investigation. This, apparently, ought to have gotten him a pardon, made him above the law of the land, which had spent 22 years to run its course. The other argument was that he was being hung for the crimes of his brother.

The intelligence in that statement can be gauged by the fact that it was echoed by Salman Khan, that well-read intellectual from Bandra.

Also, the last time we showed mercy on criminals and kept them in jails, here is what happened. The Kandahar hijackers demanded the release of Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Maulana Masood Azhar.

What did these dudes do after they were released?

The World Trade Centre attacks of 9/11, the kidnapping, and beheading of Daniel Pearl. And oh, remember the Mumbai terror attacks? Those too.


Strangely, whenever Yakub’s activities were spoken about, it was in an off-handed manner, like an accepted theorem – ‘Yes, he did commit those crimes, BUT – ’

As a media student, I think most of it is to do with public perception of an incident.

Let’s compare this with another incident that provoked the nation’s fury in the last few years. Ram Singh & Co.’s rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in December 2012.

The same liberals who poured their heart out on my wall last week, had been crying hoarse – ‘Hang the rapist’.

That was because the facts were out there in the public. They had beaten the girl black and blue, broken her bones, inserted a rod into her vagina, kicked her till her intestines came out – the gory details were all out in the public. There was a face to the victim, a name (even though it wasn’t out for long). At the same time, there was a face to the criminals too – they had names, faces, homes.

But the Mumbai blasts of 93 were more or less faceless.

Except Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, no faces or names floated in the minds of the public. It was just that – Bombay Blasts. A sad incident where people lost their lives. Like they do on trains everyday. Or if there is a stampede at a holy river.

The Mumbai blasts had no face.


That, and the fact that decades have passed since the incident, softens our stand. We begin to look at the peripheries, the tangents, and miss the gaping black hole in the middle.

Well, Yakub Memon wasn’t an innocent victim of circumstances.

Duryodhana was the more evil among the brothers. Doesn’t mean Dushasana was a saint!


To all you people who cried, spoke your voice, and pasted links to articles on my wall, here’s what Yakub Memon did.

He was a sharp student. After securing his Chartered Accountant’s degree in 1991, he was fudging accounts for his brother Tiger Memon by 1992.

Yakub Memon managed the funds for his brother. He arranged the money to buy bombs and guns. He fudged accounts to ensure they weren’t traced back to him.

He bought the cars and scooters in which the bombs were planted. Flats owned by him were used to plan the whole conspiracy. He supervised and distributed the guns and weapons, saw to it that they were well-hidden.

He bought and arranged air tickets for the accused to escape away to Pakistan, joining them when he thought it was a safer option for his family.


Perhaps reading The Times of India everyday has made us dumb.

Yakub Memon lived in Pakistan, enjoyed the luxury of their hospitality along with his family for nearly a year. By then, the investigation in India had picked up pace. All the signs were hinting towards Pakistan’s involvement.

By any shred of common logic, Pakistan wasn’t going to be feeding and keeping him safe. He only returned to India when he was a liability. When his family was in danger.


The blasts killed more than 300 people.

Innocents died. Hawkers who would stand under the sun and sell and earn peanuts. Employees who were on their way to earn an honest living. Common people who were neither communal, nor conniving with Bal Thackeray.

Just regular people going about their lives, were blown to bits. And Yakub Memon was at the epicenter of it all.

He was no saint. He was a sneaky, conniving bastard who ran away after engineering the blasts, and returned when he realized it was the safest option.


And what did the debate result in?

More than 35,000 people congregated at his funeral. Political parties like AIMIM claimed it was a conspiracy against Muslims.

Yakub Memon had set out to die for the cause of Islam. He failed, but we made sure he succeeded in the end.

We made a criminal a martyr.

Congratulations, India!!



26 thoughts on “How We Made a Criminal into a Martyr

  1. parulthakur24

    Well said! That’s the problem with India. Short lived memory and making criminals martyrs. This is not the first time. Suddenly people think how wonderful that celebrity is, how justice is due and stuff. And social media? Well, with Yakub Menon trending, it shows we care for the wrong reasons. Great post!!

  2. Husain M Zaidi (@SanMedu9)

    I would want you to write another article, but on Bal Thackeray. It should be in the same context as this article of yours. Mention the facts as to how he was responsible for the riots and whether he was accountable for over 1000 people who lost their lives then. Mind you, it is more than triple the sum of people who died in the bomb blasts. And please do not reply with, ‘But they did this, but this had happened’. If you have balls then come up with it!

    And for your kind information, no one is justifying the blasts. But don’t just talk about the blasts, speak up on what triggered it too or might as well keep it shut!

    1. kumaruce2004

      Whatever triggered the blasts doesn’t justify the fact that it killed hundreds of people. We do not live in an age of barbarism where the logic is, “If you kill my people, I will kill yours.” Yes we all agree to the fact that the precedence was wrong, but it still doesn’t diminish the barbaric act that followed. That said, you are no one to tell anybody to keep it shut. If you had the balls, then you would have spoken about it a lot earlier. Yakub Memon was a terrorist and no amount of minority card arguments can take it away.

  3. Tarun

    Most people do not realize this, but the reason murder shocks us is the lack of empathy. When blowing up several people in bomb blast, the nature of the attack, though horrendous, is usually impersonal in comparison to committing a one-on-one rape/murder. You basically have to be a bigger sociopath to kill one person than blow up 20, and even more so if the person is someone you know.
    This, I believe, is the reason why one crime shocks the masses more than the other.

  4. walter0202

    As many as 100 people have been convicted for the 1993 Bombay serial blasts which took 257 lives. However, in the 1992-’93 Mumbai riots, that killed 900 people, just three convictions have been achieved. Even 2002 riots main accused (Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi) are out on bail enjoying their life. Social injustice breeds terrorism. I guess this was the reason, that 35,000 people congregated at his funeral, not because they believed he was innocent.

    1. writingtosay

      its irresponsibly put when you say that social injustice leads to such inhuman acts. Such inhuman acts only take one thing-being inhuman, being coward and being traitor. I mean how stupid, i would sound if i say that Babar was a muslim and killed an hindu king and settled in India, so I have a right to kill innocent Muslims. Its that stupid.

      1. walter0202

        I was in no way justifying the heinous crime that he had done, Nothing in the world can justify taking anyone’s life for no reason at all. I was merely stating the fact as to why 35K ppl had gathered for his funeral, you could say it was a protest against the injustice of our judiciary and our state.

      2. Sheshank Reddy S

        You’re probably taking a leap from Causality to Justification.

        If A leads to B, it doesn’t mean A justifies B.

        The Godhra Train Massacare (amongst other events and factors) led to the anti-Muslim riots of 2002, but nothing justifies the brutal inhumanity of butchering innocents.

        The “Betrayal” of Blue Star led to The Assassination of Indira Gandhi led to the Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984. Sure, there were other factors too. But none of what happened is justified by what happened before. It is probably better explained with an understanding of what happened before, but never justified.

        You see what I mean?

        Whether you like it or not, the reality is that in many parts of the country Muslims are a discriminated lot treated with disdain and relegated to ghettos. Mumbai and Ahmedabad are prime examples of the shitty way in which the average citizen thinks about and behaves with Muslims. To try to understand why the 35,000 came out without understanding what they go through every day, might be a bit of a challenge.

        To say 35,000 people came out for his funeral because they’re India haters or Terrorist sympathisers or Paki Mofos is talking the language of Balasaheb (who, if he had his way, would’ve probably orchestrated bloody riots against Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada speakers in the 60s).

        Owaisi (and several others) will take advantage of a political opportunity and make martyrs out of terrorists (which Yakub was). To assume they represent the Muslim masses (in this opinion) may be a little off target.

  5. binusivan

    Thank you thank you thank you for putting my sentiments down word for heartfelt word. This whole issue has got me so enraged and furious that I, a writer, am not even able to write anything about this topic… cause it makes me so mad!
    I want to say so much more but am still unable to. The people who celebrated when Salman managed to escape the clutches of the law… the people who ‘feel bad’ for Yakub… I wonder if they have put themselves even for a second in the shoes of those who lost their lives or the lives of their loved ones.
    Like I said. .. thanks.

  6. Sheshank Reddy

    To be fair, a lot of people were talking about his crimes. And baying for blood, in ways which were a little disturbing (some really pleasant, generous, close friends that I know well). You are right in a way, I find this a lot more disturbing than when these same people demanded castration, lynchings and worse for Ram Singh & Co (which was disturbing too).

    In this case, it isn’t about the victims or the perpetrators having faces. It isn’t the numeric scale of the violence or the cool cunning that went into planning and executing it. All of that is despicable, but the acts and the stated rationale of Ram Singh and Co, goes a little further. It makes my stomach churn. It is physically revolting. Like what the good people of Bathani Tola did with Naimuddin Ansari’s son and infant daughter in 1996 is revolting.

    Or maybe I have a more right-leaning audience than you.

    I personally don’t care if he was hanged, sent to be trampled by elephants or thrown in a sky-cell for life. What makes me uneasy is the people who are willing to take the political credit for it. The reasons why he was hanged and when. The hullabaloo over Yakub, his minority credentials and his apparent cooperation were an unnecessary distraction from what was happening (murkily) in the execution of justice.

    The late B Raman (@sorbonne75) seems to have got it right, in his last article on Rediff. More or less. He should, the RAW and IB seem to have been instrumental in convincing Yakub to consider coming back to surrender. HUMINT isn’t sexy enough for us to want to talk about.

  7. Fact Sheet

    The whole hullabaloo around his death, the martyr status, the congregation was for sure wrong.
    But people who didn’t have a problem when a certain Bal thackrey was given a state funeral, don’t have a moral right of talking about what happened at yakubs funeral.
    I hope you do have a problem with the fact that Mr.Bal thackrey ended up being the hindu hriday samrat despite all his crimes against his fellow Indians.

    1. heartranjan Post author

      Yet again!

      I was just replying to the other comment, about how every argument is a Bollywood flashback. ‘But they did this, but this had happened’. Come on!

      I was ashamed the day Thackeray was given a state funeral. I remember staying up all night arguing with people on Facebook about it. It’s sad that with every opinion, I have to justify my stance.

      1. Narayan Ramasubramanian

        Wow! What is wrong with people! This is almost like saying why am I being given punishment for not doing my homework. My classmate who has the last roll number also did not do his but he got away. So why don’t we go to your classmate’s house and make him do a murga!

  8. basitreyaz

    If he wanted to die for islam or die in the first place..he wud hav done it in the blasts itself…i knw u dnt like islam dat much and muslims..but the guy was motivated wid revenge rather for mumbai communal voilence where lot of “innocent” muslims died which subdues the fact that he wud b considered martyr…you shud not forget dat…and in india laws are either for poor or muslims 🙂

    1. rajesh (@luvukate)

      Look i agree that indian judiciary is impartial to poor and minorities.. If you know north east situation you would considers muslims lucky.. Problem is this situation is not about religion which politicians and people who are against memon hanging are making it out to be. Issue is simple.. He committed a crime..VERY very heinous crime and he was punished for it..By Supreme court of india , not by some unofficial encounter. The only way this would have been against minority or religion was if he had “absolutely” nothing to do with blast.. nothing like me or you or heartranjan!.. and then if he was punished believe me the blog writer and I would have been there with the crowd. No matter what the motivation is… plotting a terrorist attack would be a crime punishable to highest degree in the most docile country like iceland or new zealand. Nirbhaya rapists friends group destroyed one family.. His group destroyed 300 and scarred a nation.He hung out with Dawood for god sake!..he got what he deserved if you ask me!

  9. Vintage shaayar (@pal_do_pal_ka)

    Sorry Hriday, you seem to lack the full picture here. You have to see it in context of the Babri demolition and 92 Bombay riots and how ‘Hindu’ terrorists escape the noose invariably. Also, please keep in mind 94% of death convicts are from the marginalized groups, minorities, dalits.
    And also keep in mind, the people baying for his blood are the same who shower Babu Bajrangi with flowers when he gets bail. It is quite shocking as to how you can not see the blatant injustice of our judiciary.
    The chief justice Dave while hearing the petition, quoted from Manusmriti, yes you heard that right.

    1. heartranjan Post author

      I am aware of all of that.

      But it still doesn’t change the fact that he conspired, planned and executed the blasts. People died because of him. I don’t claim that he was the only accused. Of course, people like Babu Bajrangi are bigger assholes because they have the support of the public. But I don’t understand why every political argument has to boil down to ‘But the other side did this…’.

      My comments were on this case alone. If Bajrangi was the issue at hand, I would talk about him. Whatever happened to objectivity?

      Does the Babri Masjib, the following riots, and the situation he acted in, absolve him of his crimes? We become what we are, based on how we react to situations. Yakub Memon reacted by plotting, and killing innocents.

      I am sorry, but nothing can eclipse that fact.

      1. Vintage shaayar (@pal_do_pal_ka)

        Fair enough. All your arguments are valid, from an objective sense.
        But the outpouring of thousands for his funeral doesn’t occur in a vacuum. If the rioters of 93 had been served even a modicum of punishment, if 20 Lakh people hadn’t attended the funeral of Bal Thakarey, who played the same role as Tiger Memon and was given a state funeral, I am quite sure you wouldn’t have seen the crowd at Bada Kabristan. They didn’t come in support of what Yakub did, rather as a protest against the blatant injustice of our judiciary and our state. Please don’t mock the already marginalized, the state has been doing it quite well already.

        1. Swapnil Fulmali

          i agree on everything you said and accept those are facts. in the same manner one can also argue on why Bal Thakrey had build such a hatred towards muslims to creat Mubai riots (because he also has something stronger to avenge on his mind. let me be clear on this that i am not thakrey supporter and i hate that bastard). so let me leave the anda ya murgi problem to “Experts” which can length to the origin of islam n hinduism n will be definitely hilarious. so let me picture you a bigger movie over here – every other religion nation in this world christian (britain, france, us, europe, russia), jews (israel), buddhist (china, myanmar, bhutan) , hindu (india and nepal) including atheist are fighting muslims and terrorism. if you find the answer there then it doesn’t matter if 900 died in 1991, 300 died in 1992 or 3000 died on 9/11. If you find the correct problem there then n only then start asking the real fu*king questions not on this page but to yourself on what kind of bull**** you are arguing about.

    2. Narayan Ramasubramanian

      I understand the need for uniformity in justice. But you might be pulling off correlations that aren’t necessarily relevant. Most people who are hanged are not people but evolving apes. One day I could argue saying apes are being targeted since they are a minority. .. I feel there is a very subtle point you have missed in Hriday’s post.
      “People had begun calling it an ‘injustice’, some others a travesty and a few others had gone to the extent of calling it a ‘shame to a democracy’.”
      People who say this really do not respect the law of the land. There has to be some consensus on things. People might want things to go their way but there are subtleties which we must accept are beyond our scope. (Assuming you are not a lawyer)

      I can understand your point if you say Babu Bajrangi should also be hanged for some reasons (I trust you may have a good list of them) but it is equally important for you to realize that eulogizing a terrorist for this purpose is dangerous for the society. People have made him a martyr. He was not! Period!


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