29th July, 2015
Byculla District Women’s Prison,
Byculla, Mumbai 400008.
Subject: Notice of Hunger Strike on 30-07-2015 against Hanging of Yakub Memon
I, the undersigned, Ms Angela Sontakey – UT No. 4/15, a political prisoner want to bring to your notice that I will be going on a one day hunger strike against the decision to hang Yakub Memon, alleged accused of 1993 serial bomb blasts on 30th of July 2015.
Snuffing out life by giving death penalty is a very medieval and cruel practice which must not have any place in modern societies. It has been proved that giving more stringent punishment for a crime is never a deterrent. It is true even regarding death penalty.
Death penalty has its own flaws. Human error and irreversibility of the punishment are the two most important ones. In Harban Singh versus State of U.P. in 1982 three people were awarded death penalty. Appeals were made to three different Supreme Court benches. Each bench pronounced dramatically different sentences. Thus ‘rarest of rare’ doctrine is subjective opinion as rightly pointed out by former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice A.P. Shah.
There is no doubt that economically and socially backward sections of society such as the poor, ethnic and religious minorities, tribals and dalits, and the political opponents of the state are the ones who always bear the brunt.
Former R&AW officer, late B. Raman, who was crucial in coordinating the operation to bring Yakub back had revealed that Yakub not only surrendered as a part of a ‘deal’, but helped the Indian Intelligence departments to gather crucial evidence. Yet he is being given the death penalty which was opposed even by B. Raman.
On the other hand Warren Anderson of Union Carbide, which killed thousands of innocent men, women and children in the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984, was never brought for trial. The culprits of 1984 anti-Sikh riots are not only roaming free but hold positions of power. The perpetrators of 1992-1993 anti-Muslim riots of Mumbai which preceded the ’93 bomb blasts were not investigated properly and with the same zeal. Those responsible for Gujarat riots are powerful men today, hounding innocent human rights activists. The subjectivity of ‘Justice’ is thus proved.
International criminal law has abolished death penalty even for heinous crimes including genocide and war crimes. Eighty two countries have become state parties to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition
of the death penalty. India too must respect its own commitment to civil and political rights and do away with the death penalty.
Eminent personalities from all walks of life like lawyers, judges, writers, activists, artists, parliamentarians, politicians, etc have sent a mercy petition to the President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. Political prisoners of Nagpur prison and other inmates of other prisons are observing a day long hunger strike to protest the death penalty. I am also going on a day long hunger strike on 30th of July 2015 in solidarity with all these protests.
UT No. 4/15