Thursday, May 6, 2010

Capital punishment? WTF?

So Kasab will hang.
Many have rejoiced on TV. I suppose many more are rejoicing in the real world too. Leads one to tricky interpretations, doesn't it? Is it ethical to dance at the prospect of a body swinging in mid-air? Can such a desire be termed gruesome, even bloodthirsty? I won't attempt to answer those questions. The Hawk versus Dove debate will perish only when we do. So let that be.
Instead, let me puff my chest with pride today. Because today, I learnt that only two people have been hanged in India since 1995. Many more have been sentenced to death, but their fates hang in limbo at the moment. And, believe it or not, a city like Mumbai does not even employ a hangman anymore.
Now, why should I feel pride at this statistic? Because we, as a society, could so easily have swung to the other extreme and hung people around every corner. After all, we're being attacked from all sides, even as we accumulate internal enemies by the thousands. There's every temptation to resort to violent measures. Restraint is a huge luxury right now. And we've chosen this luxury. Against all odds.
Of course, this doesn't translate to the generic conclusion that our laws are humane and progressive. They're not. Many of our laws are shocking and atrocious. Also, a lot of our affirmative actions do not take recent social developments into account (the misuse of 498a is a strong case in point). Add to this the telling fact that the powerful and rich can use unscrupulous but brilliant lawyers to go scot free even as the underprivileged spend eternities behind bars for lesser crimes, we get a true picture of what's wrong with our judicial system. We have a long way to go before we can state, with greater pride, that every human in India is deemed equal by the law. Crusades - long-drawn and impassioned - are required to bring about this change.
But today, I want to say with pride that we theoretically believe in nonviolence. We've instinctively learnt that societies that dole out capital punishment by the tons host more crime and hatred, not less. We will not become Texas.
And, therefore, we can yet aspire to become a "rarest of rare" society. :)


  1. Hmmm, interesting take. The laws and legal system of India are anyday pathetic. However, personally I feel death would be like a euthanasia for Kasab for if he is kept alive, he will be living in a hostile atmosphere where people hate him to the core.

    In such a situation death is far more welcome. And let's accept it, Kasab never came to India to live. He had come to die only. And he had come to die for his country. How many Indians can die for their country? (apart from the soldiers).

  2. You're right, Virag. Kasab came to die, thanks to the prepwork done on the fidayeen. They approach their tasks much like a charged-up boxer. Or someone on steroids. But the spell, it seems, has worn off.
    Give people sufficient time to cool off and they'll return to the basics. Survival. Kasab, from all indications, now wants to live.
    But you make an interesting point about his incarceration being more deathly than death itself. Perhaps we should allow the criminal to choose his fate then? Either death or a continuous string of life sentences. Just a thought.

  3. If Kasab hangs he'll be lucky. With one stroke he'd be rid of all the sufferings and tortures he has to undergo. If law takes it's natural course he may not hang for years and perhaps give him time to introspect.

    Would it not be better to give him a chance to live, and give ourselves a chance to dissect and analyse a terrorist's mind? I doubt many countries will get a chance like this.

    Just a thought. He deserves to die but if keeping him alive can make the world a better place, why not?

  4. Honestly, i feel our government is wasting crores of rupees on this one. something does not feel right. either lock him up in a cell and forget about him. or get the job over with.

  5. When are we going to emerge out of that non-violent cocoon of ours? I believe in natural justice. You don't make peace with cancer. Although, at a very cellular level, cancerous cells too have a right to co-exist. The more we tolerate the longer we have to bear. Now on we should just hang/drug/feed to the lions, free up the resource otherwise wasted on his safe upkeep and get along with our lives.

  6. Hi Eshwar, sufficient cool of time and they return to basics...that is about a lot of facts regarding human brain...getting back to default settings...with one small trigger...especially vengeance....would you please write on something like these,if you have come across in counselling.. if possible..plz be kind,I know this reader of your blog is getting more and more demanding or annoying....Thankyou so much :)