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Hanging Criminals Justified But Not Rejoicing Over It

The argument against killing is that man has no right to take away the life of anyone else and this amounts to matching the cruelty of criminal with the cruelty of law

by N.S.Venkataraman

After more than seven years of protracted judicial proceedings, four criminals who abused Nirbhaya have been finally hanged in India.


There have been debate all over the world as to whether killing a person by hanging or stoning or any other method by way of punishment even for the worst of the crimes, in the name of law and justice , is appropriate. In a few countries , killing a person by hanging or any other method in the name of justice is banned by law.

At the same time, there are countries like Singapore where the law breakers and criminals are subjected to whipping and in some other countries like Saudi Arabia even hands are chopped off. These countries also hang / kill criminals.

The argument against killing is that man has no right to take away the life of anyone else and this amounts to matching the cruelty of criminal with the cruelty of law.

In any case, the overwhelming view appears to be that severe punishment is required for the heinous crimes done by the criminals and such punishment is required so that it would be a deterrent for other people not to break law or indulge in criminal act such as raping.

While the arguments for and against hanging / killing have been going on for several decades and would continue as long as the human race survives , the next question is when some criminals are hanged, should it be a matter for rejoicing and celebration.

In India, the hanging of four criminals for the injustice done to Nirbhaya has been made to look as an event of national celebration with media , men and women activists calling the event as one of doing justice to Nirbhaya and therefore, is a cause for celebration. Sweets were distributed and people hugged each other when they got the news that the four xcriminals were hanged in the early morning.

Should we not confine ourselves to view the event of hanging simply as a matter of punishment for a criminal act dispassionately and not celebrating it as if it is a festival.
In life, everyone does mistakes at one time or the other, some of which could be heinous. In many cases, people who have done mistakes feel ashamed about it later on and might not repeat it. Again, it does not mean that the mistake should go unpunished.

My objection is not for hanging the criminals perse but rejoicing over it. There is an element of distaste and lack of civilization in such celebration.

When some people wanted a criminal woman to be stoned to death , Christ said that anyone in the crowd can stone the criminal to death, if the particular person who wants to stone has not done any criminal act in the past. Then, the entire crowd became silent.

Humans do not know from where they came from at the time of birth and where they would go after death. Origin and end of man is uncertain. In such circumstances, every dead man deserves respect and this includes criminals too.

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