An open letter to a newspaper and the widening divide over the hanging of Yakub Memon

Lalit Shastri

peace and harmonyAn open letter to a prominent English newspaper in India by somebody who has chosen to remain anonymous is floating freely on WhatsApp today. It begins by saying: let’s join hands and circulate to all who is of the opinion that what was published yesterday was a gross mistake.

Addressing the Editor, the letter says:

“I have been a loyal reader of the newspaper (name withheld) for the last 40+ years but today I couldn’t help but hang my head in shame looking at your coverage of Yakub Memon – his hanging, his last procession, the hordes who thronged his funeral, details of his last day in jail, his family’s emotions, the judicial process, what not! Not a word about the feelings of the victims of the ’93 blasts.

I was aghast to see 6 whole pages devoted to the Great Martyr while poor old APJ Abdul Kalam was relegated to some obscure corner. I sincerely feel that this sort of coverage it was obscene, insensitive, unnecessary & completely irresponsible. Not at all expected from a publication of your stature & repute.

In view of this, I am sorry to inform you that I am constrained to terminate our longstanding relationship. I am no longer subscribing to your paper starting tomorrow.”

This letter is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the seething issue of communal divide that appears to be threatening the fabric of communal amity in the Indian sub-continent.

Yesterday a district collector in Madhya Pradesh, who was the chief guest at a workshop was grim and looking forlorn as he pointed out during a conversation on the sidelines that people in this country have been given access to the mobile technology and smart phones when large section of the population is not mature enough to handle this facility. To drive home his point, he drew attention to the no holds barred debate packed with venom that has got unleashed across the social media over the hanging of Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon. He pointed to the ferocious manner in which the opinion on this issue has been divided and went on to observe that it would not be an exaggeration, keeping in view the global security environment, to say that we are sitting on a powder keg. The collector even went on to express the apprehension that the social media is being misused as an instrument to fan communal divide by disruptionist elements and terror groups located outside the country. The way abuses are being hurled by citizens who are joining the discussion boards in large horde is something those responsible for maintaining general peace and law and order cannot afford to ignore, the district collector said.

When asked for his reaction, an NRI based in Paris for more than 3 decades, said that he would want to be optimistic but the divide over the hanging points towards the danger of India moving on to a more repressive society… with strong parties dictating to the population what is right and what is wrong and widening the divide in the process. The furhter splintering of the sub-continent is a scary perspective, he said adding “let us always remember that this is still possible. Pointing that “Nationhood is an ideal and we are light years away from achieving this goal”, he said “We need to spread the good word… that people are human beings first…and have to remain humane…..


  1. And I’m sure that many who relay that anonymous letter may not even be readers of the journal. The media is right, the more important news was the hanging and not the funeral of an ex-president however popular he may have been. The writing is on the wall….. dId the government need to show its merciless might by a hanging on a population feeling more and more threatened by an exceedingly agressive majoritarian mass which is endangering the very existence of our unity in diversity? Dangerous times are ahead …… I have the vision of India as seen by the founding fathers of our nation and Republic —-where each and every religious (I say religious because that is the fundamental line of fracture) group has the right to exist without fear. The minorities are not secondary citizens, they are fully citizens of our nation.

    As citizens what we need to do for things to change….
    A. Mobilize all those who believe in our unity in diversity as the only viable reality of our country.
    B. Speakers, writers, artists, sportsmen, eminent persons of different walks of life to express themselves in the print media and if possible the radio and TV networks. Talks to be given in various fora, schools, colleges, universities, associations, NGOS on the theme of unity in diversity for which wide publicity should be given.
    C. Organize workshops bringing in community leaders of different faiths to work together on basic projects of communitry development – literacy, hygiene and health awareness, civic education, after school study assistance for the weaker ones. Development of trust and harmony between communities.



    • Bro, constitution gave us right not any government. I saw fear mongering on news channel without any fects.they are making just conspiracy stories.i didn’t see anything.realitt is bro if one leader talk bullshit then other leader counter him automatically. Every nation is divided on base of political ideology but this ia a political not more then anyrhing.


  2. The issue is not majority vs minority. The first issue is whether he committed the crime he was accused of. He was; nobody is disputing that. The second issue is whether our country still has the death sentence. India has; and many criminals have been hanged to death in our country. The death sentence hasn’t been specifically brought back for this guy. I was truly shocked by the headlines and the number of people publicly mourning. He was a criminal!
    But then, the fact that the public mourning was allowed shows that India is a free country yet.


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