NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a last ditch curative appeal to stall the execution of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon, setting the stage for his hanging on July 30, his birthday.
The 53-year-old convict is a chartered accountant and younger brother of the main accused and fugitive Tiger Memon. He has said he surrendered to the Indian police in Kathmandu in 1994 when he wanted to clear his name in the 13 blasts across Mumbai that killed 257 in March 1993.
The official version is Indian police arrested him after Nepal handed him over allegedly upon his return from Pakistan. Yakub Memon was charged with organising the finances and logistics for securing and concealing the arms cache used in the terror attacks.
Amnesty International criticises decision to reject plea to stall execution
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a message that those who indulge in terror acts against India will be hanged. I welcome this message and I thank the prime minister,” Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam was quoted as saying of the Supreme Court’s rejection of Memon’s appeal.
The attacks followed weeks of communal frenzy in Mumbai that came with the destruction of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992. Shiv Sena members reportedly led that violence in collusion with police, mostly targeting Muslim slum dwellers.
The Justice Shrikrishna commission of inquiry into the violence named Shiv Sena and police as responsible for widespread targeting of innocent people. The report was shelved.
India says two key fugitives in the case, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, Yakub’s elder brother, were hiding in Pakistan. The issue adversely impacted on the Agra summit between leaders of India and Pakistan in July 2001.
Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim have been on the run since 1993. A judge described the three as the “architects of the blasts” that took place at separate landmarks including the Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of the national carrier Air India and the luxury Sea Rock hotel.
Amnesty International said the rejection of Memon’s curative petition was “disappointing” as it indicates a “regressive trend” of continuing the death penalty in India.
Special anti-terror court judge P.D. Kode, who conducted the trial, termed the rejection of the curative plea as “a solace after 22 years and a victory for those who believe in the rule of the law”.
“The Supreme Court judgment shows that indulging in criminal activities is not a profitable business. As far as India is concerned, we don’t tolerate the people who play with the valuable fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution,” Kode said.
Eminent criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani was quoted as saying the verdict was a “welcome step”.
Tushar Deshmukh, who lost his mother in the blasts, said his family is “really happy” since they were waiting for 22 years for the final verdict.
Memon was found guilty in 2007 and has been in jail for two decades. His brother Essa and Yusuf and sister-in-law Rubina were all convicted in the blasts.
Yakub Memon’s was the only mercy petition to be rejected. The sentence of the other 10 people convicted for the blasts has been commuted to life in prison.
A court said Memon was the “driving spirit” behind the attacks.
Memon’s appeals against his execution were rejected all the way to the Supreme Court and also by the president. His family members have been informed about the date and time of his execution, which is the procedure, say sources in the government.
Memon, who completed master’s degrees in English literature and political science in jail, had challenged his death sentence on the grounds that while he could be held guilty of conspiracy, he was not involved in executing the blasts that led to death of people.
Actor Sanjay Dutt is serving a four-year sentence in jail after being convicted for buying weapons from those accused in the blasts.
Published in Dawn, July 22th, 2015