24 November 2012

I'm not for the death penalty

I waited for a long time for someone to offer me a column about my views on capital punishment, and since no one did (STILL WAITING, NEWSPAPERS),  I've decided to do it for myself.

I do not get glee out of watching someone killed. True, I have even LESS glee when it's someone innocent, something in my stomach twists and knots and turns, but even when it's a person with a machine gun who killed lots of other people, I want him punished, yes, but not from stone-throwing or tarring and feathering and tying him to a horse. No guillotine. I want him to suffer slowly, in long solitary confinement, to go mad inside his prison cell. To live a long life regretting his mistakes.

I mentioned this on Twitter and was immediately shouted down. "The expense!" said one person. "Oh yeah, and then someone will hijack our plane and demand his release." All good points. (Side note: I love how it's suddenly "our". Like cricket matches, executions bring a country together.) But see, I believe that if as a country we're going to exercise our global right to sentence a man to whatever based on his crimes, then we should be prepared to bear the expense or beef up security or whatever, just to keep him adequately punished. It's an utopian ideal, yes, this idea of killing no one, letting our prisons be full.

You know what? I actually don't have a great argument about keeping people in prisons. I can't justify the cost or the potential security threats. But something sits uneasy in me at the thought of a death penalty. We are not gods. We shouldn't have the right. It is WRONG, no matter what the crime. 26/11 was hard on me, was hard on all of us living in Bombay at the time, but still, STILL, I can't bring myself to rejoice that he is dead at our hands.

What do you guys think? Weigh in in the comments.


  1. I stand by what you say.... it's difficult to justify death sentences.. probably I watched green mile one too many a time... :(

  2. A question without an answer for me...humanely, Capital Punishment is something I absolutely condemn.
    But practically,Maybe a painless death??
    That's the opposite of what you're advocating...chodo.
    This is the kind of topic you could have a hundred meeting hours on and not get an answer...can't blame the govt!

  3. I am all for it. Some people are better off not existing and I don't see a point in keeping a man (especially under this circumstance) alive just so that he will live and regret his crime. So what if he does? And what if he doesn't? Capital punishment is a great way to send a message. You kill people, you take lives, yours gets taken too. It could be easier for me to accept considering I am agnostic. Also, I believe we ARE Gods. Each and every one of us - the only kind that exist (but maybe that's another discussion)

  4. I felt exactly the way you did when I heard of his execution. And I am a very black and white person. But I still dont think that as humans we have a right to decide who does and does not live. He was just a boy. Brain washed and made cruel by others. I think of myself at 17 and remember that I had no clue what the world was all about. He was misled and only God knows what did have have to go through. Death for 22 yr old, for committing a crime after being subjected to a high level of simply not human.

  5. Totally agree. Wrote about it myself

  6. Copying my sister's fb update which sums it up perfectly for me : "Are we really rejoicing over capital punishment, calling it an achievement? What's so great about putting a noose around somebody? That guy was already on a mission where he intended to fight till death. If we wanted to teach him and the others a lesson, we should have let him suffer behind bars.. Moreover, he might have had a change of heart, campaigned for peace from behind bars, and now we will never know"

    The cost of his maintenance can be obtained by getting him to do one of those prison jobs for prisoners I think.

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  8. I personally hate it when people celebrate death (anybody's death) with such gusto. I experienced a similar feeling when Osama was struck down, the way he was. I know I am being politically incorrect (that too on such a sensitive issue) and my heart goes out for the people of Mumbai and what they went through on that fateful night.
    But one question that keeps coming back to me is - IS HANGING SOMEONE THE SOLUTION?
    We were lucky enough to not end up at a Terrorist Training centre when we were teenagers ourselves. i don't know about others but I was a radical-rash-obnoxious brat myself and could have done much worse in life.
    Teenagers are an impressionable lot. Why are we so rigid as to be totally oblivious to the fact that may be if he hadn't ended up being where he did (thanks to the pathetic poverty and other such factors) things could have been different.. I am not saying that he should have been bestowed with a Pdam-shri but sure keeping his age in mind (at the time of the crime),, Sentencing him to death,, was not the best solution... But then again it is just a personal view and I hold the utmost respect for Indian Governance.

  9. Maybe it is better not to take any prisoners...that way all issues like costs and the death penalty are side stepped...

    Also, suffering slowly, in solitary confinement etc, does fall into the category of are you suggesting that perhaps torture is preferable to the death penalty ?

  10. Exactly my feelings. Capital punishment makes me uneasy and I don't think it necessary. There are other ways to make people realize the mistakes they have made, rather than just kill them. I believe that making the decision that someone is not fit to be alive any more is not ours. And to people who think Kasab's death will bring closure to the victims and their families, I'm sorry but that's just an illusion we're living in and India needs to beef up security to make sure terror strikes like these do not happen again.

  11. So.. judging by your comments... I assume you are pro-life in the abortion debate? I assume terminating a foetus is also akin to 'playing god' for you?

    What's that? That is a personal choice and woman's body is her own?

    Our friends & families bodies were their own too and unlike Kasab they weren't put through the process of law before their sentencing.

    Abolish the death penalty and you end up with a lot more encounter killings, not subject to any law.

    If the consequences of of wandering into a public place and plastering people with bullets, shattering thousands of lives is to live out my life in a confined room, sign me up! Free food and lodging for the rest of my life, plus I get a to be a celebrity-cum-martyr too. And who pays for all of this - why it comes from the hard-earned money of the victims' families.

    That's not just perverse or ironic, it is a travesty of justice.

    Kasab made his choice. He sentenced himself to death. Not us. Does it matter whether it was at the hands of policemen defending this country, or a hangman?

  12. I am okay with scum like him being hanged. Certainly will not lose sleep over it. He showed no compassion or regard for human life (I'm not buying this "brainwashed teenager" hogwash) and therefore does not deserve a dignified death.

    As is apparent, I am no bleeding heart liberal.

  13. He deserved it, is all. I have no qualms admitting that it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know he no longer exists to waste taxpayer money.

  14. You say that we are not gods, that we shouldn't decide who should die and who should be kept alive. But then, what kind of an existence would you have rotting away in a jail cell? If we aren't gods, why should we decide who gets a real life and who's rotting away in jails? If we aren't gods, we shouldn't have a judicial system in the first place. The laws of the country by which we abide have put the right to determine who gets to live, in the hands of the judiciary.

    I don't think it is wrong to kill someone. Why is it? You kill for survival, for self-defense, why not for punishment?

    However, I do think that the ideal penitentiary system would be to reform the criminal, instead of just executing him/her. I don't think this because it is wrong to kill, but because that is a permanent solution. It is going to be the same for every criminal too - no matter their crime. They will get the chance to learn to live the right way - not the way society conditioned them into living. But this is the perfect solution, and by its very nature, impossible to deploy.


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