Do dead terrorists lose all right to any respect?

January 8, 2009

Do dead terrorists lose all right to any respect? I ask this because my post Should India cremate Mumbai militants, spread ashes at sea? last week has prompted a surprising wave of comments suggesting these corpses should be desecrated. Readers have been proposing (and we have been deleting) graphic and crude scenarios for disposing of the nine corpses still lying in a Mumbai morgue. The proposed solution of cremating the bodies and spreading the ashes at sea – originally from a blog post by Leor Halevi in the Washington Post – seemed far too tame for them.

(Photo: Gunmen at Mumbai train station, 26 Nov 2008/Official CCTV image via Reuters TV)

The Mumbai militants were murderers. Once they’re dead, though, what purpose would it serve to dismember them, feed them to crocodiles or turn them into a stoning pillar? What would it say about the Indian government if it disposed of these bodies without even the barest minimum of respect for the dead? Indeed, what does it say about readers who want it to do just that?

BTW the majority of comments – even those that are understandably very angry – call for a minimum of respect for the dead, no matter who they are.

India is under no obligation to give these bodies a proper Muslim burial. The refusal of Indian Muslim organisation to grant them one is what has created this stalemate. But can that mean New Delhi should go all the way in the opposite direction?


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One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I do not agree with killing people in the Taj and Oberoi like these ten men did, but what if they were Palestinians trying to draw attention to their freedom struggle? Even terrorists should be buried with full rites.

Posted by Chengeez Khan | Report as abusive

Desecrating the dead speaks more about the living than the dead.

Yes there is a problem that I was the first to identify here as you may know will-pakistan-accept-the-bodies-of-nine- dead-terrorists-who-came-from-pakistan-t o-mumbai-if-so-let-there-be-a-hand-over- at-the-wagah-border/ pakistans-new-delhi-embassy-should-ask-f or-consular-access-to-nine-dead-terroris ts-in-a-mumbai-morgue-before-asking-to-m eet-kasab/

Pakistan needs to accept its own dead back, something that is yet to happen.

Professor Leor Harevi is right to point to the sea but wrong to do so for the Eichmann reason.

(Incidentally, cremating a dead body and placing the ashes in water is a high honour for Hindus, not desecration! Different cultures do different things with their dead — unlike Jews, Christians and Muslims, what Hindus and Sikhs do is cremate the dead. Remember that in antiquity those who burnt their dead were though uncivilised by those who buried their dead and vice versa.)

Anyway the proper procedure for disposing of the remains of the nine Pakistani dead terrorists presently in a Mumbai morgue is for them to receive the burial due to pirates and dishonourable sailors, because their initial acts of piracy violated the Law of the Sea Treaty which Pakistan has ratified. a-basis-of-india-pakistan-cooperation-on -the-mumbai-massacres-the-ten-pakistani- terrorists-started-off-as-pirates-and-th e-al-huseini-is-a-pirate-ship/

Posted by Dr Subroto Roy | Report as abusive

Why are be bickering about something as mundane as how to dispose off the bodies of the terrorists. The people who sent them to India to kill hundreds of innocents have no respect for them as they are unwilling to come forward and claim the bodies of their own people. Then why as Indians, as we bothered about what happens to these bodies as long as they do not become a shrine for wannabe terrorists. Lets stop being all emotional about the dead bodies of these murderers and lets channel our energy on making life better for ourselves.

Posted by kusum | Report as abusive

we are wasting time

this subject need no discussion

no respect

does not matter dead or alive.

Posted by rashmi | Report as abusive

The barbaric act was done to secure a place in heaven,and according to the beliefs the body should be disposed as per rituals, failing which they shall be denied entry. so by denying them a traditional burial, the message could be sent to other prospective candidates of such madness, that their death would be in vain…

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

The funerals of terrorists are often used as rallying points for the group they claim to represent and their graves become pilgrimage sites for weak-minded people who may be tempted to follow their example. Giving them a “martyrs’ send-off” and a grave site therefore provides a large part of the publicity they set out to achieve. This should be prevented by having them cremated or buried by the state secretly and without ceremony and their remains disposed of in unmarked graves.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

“1 man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”: Absolute nonsense. “Terrorism” is a simple word to define, the Academic Consensus as accepted by the UN is quite clear about it, make no mistake. To paraphrase: “The calculated use of random violence, against civlians to further political objectives.”

A “Freedom Fighter” has no legal or academic definition but I am sure most would agree that such a person would be one who only attacked bonafide military and/or politicaltargets while still respecting the safety and welfare of civilians.

“Terrorism” is an international Crime. HAMAS are TERRORISTS. The Mumbai Muslim Attackers were TERRORISTS.

As for the queston asked, my belief is that india should do what we Israelis do, use the remains as political tools. it sounds harsh but this is reality. Does Pakistan hold Indian spies? indian political prisoners? A contested piece of land perhaps? Of course! Why not then turn a bad thing into a good thing, as much as one can in any regard. Ask for just exchange, and then turn over the remains as you found them, nothing more and nothing less.

When Hezbollah returns body parts of our dead soldiers we trade their jailed members, etc. Not perfect but it makes much more sense than cremating them and forgetting about it.

Posted by rachamim ben ami | Report as abusive

Another comment for the first comment, once again. “What if they were Pakistanis fighting for their homeland, etc.?”: So what? What they did was disgusting, abohorrent, lower than animals. Indeed, what if they were Pakistanis mad about some land India has or does not have? WHY DID THEY TARGET NON-INDIAN JEWS? WHY TARGET WESTERNERS? WHY TARGET NIDIAN CIVLIANS? Sorry, but you have no right AT ALL to make excuses for anyone who does such things. They are worse than pigs. At least pigs do not try and kill strangers.

Posted by rachamim ben ami | Report as abusive

honoring the dead does not have to include a burial. It’s a religious thing to have a burial ceremony. How about some forgiveness for these dead or not and then whatever whatever. Do with the shells as you please. Here’s a suggestion: cremate then burial at sea in the ocean or lake or sea floor. here’s another one, burying them with the ones they killed.

Posted by tari | Report as abusive

The terrorists are no more. What is done with their bodies will be noted by the living, and used by would-be terrorists as a prediction of what will happen to their own remains.

This comes down to a question of psychological torture, rather severe to their culture. I don’t know any answer but to question anyone who is sure of an answer. This doesn’t seem like a really easy decision.

Remember that the whole reason we had this problem is that THEY felt their concerns were so vital as to justify committing outrage.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive


Posted by anilh | Report as abusive

“India is under no obligation to give these bodies a proper Muslim burial.”
This is completely true. There must be a procedure for processing unidentified bodies. They could just comply with that.

If Pakistan admits the dead are also pakistani, the bodies should be returned to their families. While the terrorists deserve no respect, India should do the decent thing and not desecrate their bodies.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

Once a criminal is dead and can do no more harm, nothing is gained from desecrating his body.

But to the person who said:
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I do not agree with killing people in the Taj and Oberoi … but what if they were Palestinians trying to draw attention to their freedom struggle? ”

Of course all terrorists believe in their own “excuses” for committing random murders. And they also believe that after they die, they get 72 virgins.
But good people believe there is no such thing as a valid excuse for deliberately shooting at random people.
(As to the poor Palestinian people, if they just got rid of their deeply corrupt leaders, and stopped terrorism, they would immediately get a state, and achieve economic well-being. It’s so very simple.)

Posted by Cheri | Report as abusive

Respect ? Dude they are dead now.

Is this something these terrorists care about ?
Probably they will be sitting Naked in lap of 72 Virgins.

But the people who send them from Pakistan are alive and kicking they should accept the bodies, its not the question of respect rather its responsibility.

Posted by Punjabiyaar | Report as abusive

They havedone a brutal action for innocent civilians. But what is wrong in giving a burial for them according to their tradition? It doesn’t mean that we honour them by this action.
It is just an action of humanity.

Posted by priya | Report as abusive

The real freedom Palestinians require is freedom of thought and freedom of speech which would humanise their thoughts.The politicla problem would be easily solved then.Unfortunately for that to happen they have to shed the yoke of mythical Arab supremacism.
Terrorists lose respect in the civilised world more for their blind submission of mind than for the actual physical atrocities committed.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Alternatively, they could publish the pictures in Pakistani papers and ask their relatives to come forward and claim the bodies. That would be interesting

Posted by Mumbai | Report as abusive

rachamim ben ami :
We could trade off the bodies with some of our fishermen captured by Pakistan, but the problem is pakistan dont have any dignity and honour, they always deny that these men were pakistanis.

What to tell about these Jihadis, having lived in hell (Pakistan) for such a long time they are so desparate to go to so called heaven, they completely forget the fact till the bodies are not buried, gates to heaven is closed and virgins will remain virgins lol.

I agree with one of the commentators here that publising pictures of the dead in pakistani newspapers could make the relatives come forward and claim bodies. But again the risk is Pakistan may ban the newspaper which publish pics

Poor terrorists are hanging between hell and heaven, May got help them
Amen !

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive

So many of the people replied reveal their ignorance about Hindu as well as Christian or Muslim burial rituals, but more importantly they seem to miss the point. These people wanted to be heros- Martyrs. They do not deserve respect. To either give them any burial or cremate them is helping them achieve their goal. Why should the taxpayers and families of the victims pay to give nine terrorists a burial.
Someone raised a very good point. Pakistani Muslims have no honor. The government of Pakistan will not admit that the bodies are Pakistani, so they will not collect them.
Why bother with dismembering the bodies, or other savage things.
Simply announce publicly that the families or friends have three days to collect the remains from an open field. After that, they will be sprinkled with pigs blood and left for the vultures. No cost, no heroes, and it would send a message to all the muslim terrorists in the world. They would be denied entrance to heaven and their seventy-two virgins.
And yes, to Priya, we forgive them. You don’t seem to understand that forgiveness and consequences are separate things. When someone rapes your daughter, you forgive them, but forgiveness doesn’t mean that the person goes unpunished.

Posted by Bartosz | Report as abusive

A dead terrorist commands more sympathy than a live Jew or Hindu. I hate this world.

Posted by Snake Oil Baron | Report as abusive

“Do Dead Terrorists Lose All Right To Any Respect”

Brother, if you respect terrorism or terrorists, living or dead, you have a serious problem.

Posted by Sampat | Report as abusive