Yakub hanged, first convict to be executed for ’93 blasts

Nagpur/Mumbai, July 30

In a dramatic legal culmination that sharpened modern India’s debate on life and death, Yakub Memon, the lone 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court, was hanged in Nagpur on a day he turned 54.

“He was hanged at 7 am sharp,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI in a text message. His death capped the dramatic last-ditch legal manoeuvres by his lawyers to stall his execution. Barely had a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court yesterday rejected Yakub’s petition seeking a stay on execution and found no infirmities in the apex court’s dismissal of his curative petition, Yakub filed a fresh mercy plea before President Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee rejected his plea again after holding consultations with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Secretary LC Goyal and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.

Some senior lawyers led by Prashant Bhushan filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court. Around midnight, an officer of the SC Registrar brought the petition to Chief Justice of India HL Dattu at his residence. Around 1 am, the CJI constituted a three-member Bench to the petition. The Bench began hearing at 3.20 am and around 5 am, it rejected the petition, thus paving the way for Yakub’s hanging, as scheduled earlier.

According to state Home Department sources, the government agreed to Yakub’s last wish before his execution and allowed him to speak to his daughter Zubeida. He spoke to her on Wednesday night from the jail, sources said. He was also allowed to meet his brothers Suleman and Usman who told him about the late-night efforts to save his life. The family also reportedly sent him a birthday cake a little after midnight. Officials said Yakub was persuaded to have his dinner (roti and chicken) since he had not eaten anything for two days. At 4 am, jail officials went to Yakub’s cell in the Nagpur Central Jail. He was reportedly awake. They briefed him about his impending execution. Then, as per the jail manual, he was asked to undergo a physical check-up to determine his fitness. However, Yakub declined to undergo the check-up and told the officials that he was fit enough for the execution.

Subsequently, he took a bath and put on new clothes. He was given breakfast, but he refused to eat anything. He was then given some prayer books to read. At 6 am, he was taken to the specially constructed gallows on the Nagpur jail premises. As per set procedure, a black cover was draped over his head and his hands and feet tied.

He was hanged by the police constable who executed Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab at the Yerwada Central Jail in Pune last year. Two constables trained to assist in the execution stood by while the lever was pulled.

Senior officials present at the time of execution included Nagpur Collector Sachin Kurne, ADG (Prisons) Meeran Borwankar, Judicial Magistrate Girish Joshi, Jailor Yogesh Desai and some medical officials.

After the prison doctor declared him dead, a post-mortem examination was conducted on the jail premises itself. Later in the day, the body was handed over to his family. His brother Suleman and other relatives then brought the coffin containing Yakub’s body to Mumbai via an Indigo Airlines flight.

The family was told not to hold any funeral procession for Yakub. The police authorities imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC in and around the Memons’ residence at Mahim in Mumbai under which photography of Yakub’s body was prohibited.

Funeral amid tight security  
Yakub’s body was buried at Bada Kabrastan, South Mumbai, amid tight security. Political speeches, photography and video recording of the coffin were prohibited.

Wasn’t given assurance: CBI ex-chief 
Former CBI Director PC Sharma has rejected the claim that Indian security agencies had given some kind of assurance to Mumbai bomb blast convict Yakub Memon.

Politics over hanging 

  • In a series of tweets, Congress leader Digvijay Singh questioned the “urgency” shown in Yakub’s case vis-à-vis other cases of terror. He said the credibility of the government and judiciary was at stake
  • Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also tweeted: “I am not commenting on the merits of this or any specific case. My problem is with the principle of death penalty”
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slammed the “irresponsible statements” of Congress leaders and asked Sonia Gandhi to explain her party’s position as it was a sensitive matter