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Memon & Kalam: A look at the choices that make us who we are

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By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury

The Supreme Court of India rejected Yakub Memon’s mercy plea and upheld the death warrant. His lawyers made a last minute attempt on Wednesday night, camping outside the residential office of the Chief Justice of India seeking a last minute appeal.

Past midnight, a bench was constituted to further look into Memon’s punishment so that a final decision could be reached. The bench differentiated between this case and another case involving a couple from Uttar Pradesh and decided that the UP judgement was taken in ‘haste’ and thus the death penalty could be avoided. However, Yakub had exhausted all his legal remedies and therefore his death warrant could not be stalled.

Today, with the execution of Memon, the nation bid farewell to two strikingly different personalities, both with extensive knowledge of arms and ammunitions. One served as a teacher, a scientist, and a revered president. The other is responsible for terror attacks and creating a communal divide. Both are Muslims.

The last rites of the former President APJ Abdul Kalam and the execution of Yakub Memon are being extensively covered by the media. While the nation gets continuous updates, a closer look at the situation explains why neither religion, nor weapons have anything to do with the choices one makes in life. Social beliefs are carefully constructed to suit our personal belief systems and resources are used only in accordance with it.

The ‘Missile man of India’, APJ Abdul Kalam, was an example to the country in many ways. Kalam was a man of vision. Few could see the potential of the nuclear bomb beyond mass destruction. He was referred to as the ‘people’s president’ for a reason. He was accessible and down to earth, making a number of public appearances, unlike any other president before.

Kalam was a boatman’s son from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. His journey to become a scientist and an engineer started from there. In a long line of presidencies, Kalam stood out. His books Wings of Fire and Ignited Minds offered us aphorisms about progress, dreaming, and thinking, when he so often also had simple advice that resonated. Kalam stood for the nation’s aspirations.

Yakub Memon was an Indian terrorist convicted for the 1993 serial blasts in Bombay. The brother of Tiger Memon (one of the prime suspects in the blasts), was a qualified chartered accountant and an owner of a successful meat export business ‘Tejrath International’. Memon was executed today morning according to the warrant passed by the SC. The Supreme Court rejected the last mercy plea of the convict.

In many ways, the comparison of the aforementioned figures are impossible, but when the question of faith perpetuating violence is raised, one might see clearly that it is just a matter of choice. Here in question are two educated individuals who have chosen their life paths.

Kalam, a weapon engineer, used them as ammunitions not against innocent people or other countries, but to ensure security, development, and progress for the nation. He never imagined violence to have religious or moral sanctions and understood the value of weapons as ‘necessary ammunition.’ Memon used the same ammunitions to claim the lives of numerous people and breaking their families forever. Moreover, he tried to justify his actions on religious grounds.

Two men of the same faith, having expertise on ammunitions, but lives devoted to different philosophies elucidates the importance of choices. The tribute to Kalam’s death and the execution of Memon has more to reveal when looked at in comparison rather than isolation. It teaches us that finally it is our choices that make us who we are.

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Mumbai School Renamed after the Missile Man of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam

APJ Abdul Kalam was the Principal Patron of SIES and also recipient of SIES Lifetime Achievements Award.

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APJ Abdul Kalam
The Missile Man of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia

Mumbai , October 15, 2017 : Ghatkopar-based NMWS-run school was renamed as ‘SIES Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Memorial High School’ on Sunday in the presence of 87 students — the number representing the “87th birthday” of the former President.

The ‘North Mumbai Welfare Society’ (NMWS), running the school with 3,250 students, had merged with the South Indian Education Society (SIES), Matunga, which runs many educational institutions in Mumbai with over 25,000 students.

The 87 students present unveiled a life-size six-feet statue of APJ Abdul Kalam at the school entrance.

Later, SIES President V. Shankar unveiled the renamed school plaque and inaugurated an exhibition “India at 70”, which comprises 70 panels dedicated to topics like “Least known facts about India”, “Things India has given to the world”, “To make a modern India” and “Great achievers of India”.

APJ Abdul Kalam was the Principal Patron of SIES and also recipient of SIES Lifetime Achievements Award.

ALSO READ Ten Inspirational Quotes by APJ Abdul Kalam on his Second Death Anniversary

“In his honour and memory and in acknowledgement of the significant contribution he made to ignite young minds, we have decided to rename the newly acquired NMWS school after him,” Shankar said.

Though satellite stations, roads, educational programmes, and a bacteria (“Solibacillus Kalami”, by NASA) have been named after India’s Missile Man, “ours is probably the only institution to name a school after Dr Kalam who was fond of children”, Shankar said.

The school will showcase books authored by the late President APJ Abdul Kalam, calling the collection ‘Kalam Ki Kalam’.

A kiosk at the school entrance will have some of Kalam’s quotes on display all day long, he added. (IANS)

 

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

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An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

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Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

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Why Does 45th Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra Need ‘Z’-Category Security of Armed NSG Commandos?

Jjustice Depak Misra, who had been recommended as a successor by Justice J.S Khehar in July, becomes the 45th Chief Justice of India and was administered the oath of office by President Ram Nath Kovind.

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Chief Justice of India.
The swearing in ceremony of Justice Dipak Misra as the 45th Chief Justice of India. Twitter
  • Justice Dipak Misra was sworn in as the 45th Chief Justice of India
  • His tenure will span for the next 14 months until his retirement in October 2018
  • Justice Misra is the only CJI to have armed protection of black commandos

New Delhi, August 29, 2017: The Chief Justice of India (CJI) J.S Khehar demitted office on August 27. The next in line was Justice Dipak Misra, who was sworn in on August 28 as the 45th Chief Justice of India at a ceremony held at the Darbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

President Ram Nath Kovind administered the oath taking ceremony of Misra, who had been recommended as a successor by Justice J.S Khehar in July this year.

In his career spanning 40 years, Justice Dipak Misra ventured into most realms of the law- civil, criminal, constitutional, revenue services and matters concerning sales tax, proving his grit to take over the new position. But that is not the only intriguing aspect of his career.

Justice Deepak Misra is the first ever Chief Justice of India to have a ‘Z’-category security cover.

The 45th CJI was provided with an upgraded security cover in 2015 after he had received a death-threat letter from terrorist organizations.

Why Would A Supreme Court Judge Need Security Cover?

On July 30, 2015, Justice-Misra headed the three-judge bench in a hearing when Yakub Memon, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, pleaded for a 14 days’ stay on his death penalty just hours before he was to be hanged. The pleas were starkly dismissed in an incomparable 2:30 am hearing and the judgment went on to become a landmark in the Indian legal history.

However, shortly after the hearing, an anonymous letter enclosed in an envelope threatening Misra of dreadful consequences was delivered at his official residence following which he was provided with a ‘Z’ security cover which remains till date.

ALSO READ: Threat letter to judge who rejected Memon’s mercy plea

A protectee under ‘Z’ category gets security cover from armed commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG) along with an escort vehicle and a pilot vehicle, each having three armed personnel, for the protection of his official vehicle.

Today, Justice Misra is the only top judge to ever use a bullet-proof ambassador car supplemented with a police escort.

Chief Justice of India
CJI Dipak Misra, seen here with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi. Twitter

However, death threats never stalled the 63-year old Justice Dipak Misra from taking monumental judgments and he has been at the forefront of some of the landmark judgments in the recent history. We take a look at the highlights from his career,

1. In May 2017, Justice Misra doctored the long-awaited landmark ruling and confirmed death penalty of the four convicts in the monstrous 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape that shook the entire world.

2. Justice Dipak Misra also headed the bench that mandated to play the National Anthem in cinema houses before the start of every movie for which he received a lot of flak. He also ordered for the viewers to stand up in “committed patriotism and nationalism” every time the National Anthem and/or the National Flag are featured in the theatres.

3. One of the most noteworthy decisions by Justice Misra include directing all State and Union Territories to upload all FIRs registered on their websites within 24 hours of registration at the police station. The move has made the entire process transparent, allowing the accused to download complaints and seek redressal of their grievances.

4. Justice Misra was also one of the seven judges of the special bench set up by the Supreme Court for a contempt of court hearing against Justice C.A Karman who had levied corruption charged on 20 judges of the High Court. The bench defended the constitutionality of the 150-year old law on criminal defamation and sentenced Karnan to six months in jail.

5. In 2015, a Justice Misra-led bench stayed the Maharashtra government’s ban on dance bars that had mushroomed in Mumbai and other parts of the state during the 90s. However, it maintained that the government must take steps to protect and uphold the dignity of women who performed at these bars.

6. Justice Misra is also known for his strict stand against frivolous litigations. He previously rejected one such appeal that had objected to the use of the term ‘Dhobi Ghat’ in a film’s title and had warned the petitioner.

7. He was also part of the bench that rejected the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow for reservations in promotions and asserted that this can only be allowed if there is sufficient supportive data and evidence to justify the decision.

8. Holding chair as the executive chairperson of the National Legal Services Authority, Justice Misra introduced the facility of Legal Assistance Establishment or Nyay Sanyog in states to simplify activities to provide free and faster legal aid to the deprived people.

9. Justice Misra also headed the three-judge bench that instructed the Centre in April 2017 to conduct NEET examination in Urdu from academic year 2018-2019 onwards. NEET examinations are held for students who wish to pursue a graduate medical course or a post-graduate medical course in private or government colleges.

Justice Dipak Misra’s tenure as the 45th Chief Justice of India will span for the next 14 months until he retires in October 2018 and is expected to see judgments in some high-magnitude issues like the validity of the Aadhaar card, the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir and the Ayodhya land dispute.


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