Yakub Memon, the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings, has been executed. Memon was hanged at a prison in Nagpur today morning at around 7 am.
The serial blasts killed 257 people and injured over 800 people, were alleged to avenge the killing of Muslims in riots a few months earlier.
India rarely carries out death sentences – only three people have been executed since 2004.
There was tight security around the Nagpur prison on Thursday morning and in parts of the state capital, Mumbai.
The March 1993 blasts targeted a dozen sites, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, the offices of national carrier Air India and a luxury hotel.
Memon was hanged hours after the supreme court dismissed a final plea to stay the sentence. For the first time, the Supreme Court of India was working at 3.30 in the morning. This shows the commitment of Indian Judiciary in giving enough chances for anyone even a terrorist, in this case, to prove his innocence.
His lawyers had argued that executions can only be carried out after seven days have passed following the rejection of a mercy petition. But in a pre-dawn hearing, the court ruled that because his first mercy petition had been rejected last year, the execution met the required rules.
History of Mumbai attacks
- March 1993: Series of explosions kill 257 people and injure 713
- August 2003: Four bomb attacks kill 52 people
- July 2006: Seven bombs go off on the crowded trains in 11 minutes, killing more than 180 people and wounding hundreds
- November 2008: Gunmen carry out a series of co-ordinated attacks across seven high-profile locations, including two luxury hotels, city’s main commuter train station, a hospital, a restaurant and a Jewish centre, killing 165 people. Pakistan-based militants blamed for the attacks and peace efforts between the two countries derailed. Nine of the attackers also killed. Pakistani national Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, who was captured alive, hanged in November 2012
- July 2011: Three near-simultaneous explosions during Mumbai’s evening rush hour kill 18 people and injure 131
Memon, a chartered accountant, was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special court in Mumbai after being convicted of providing financial and logistical support for the bombings.
He was the only one of 11 people convicted for the bombings to have his death sentence upheld on appeal. The sentences on the others were commuted to life imprisonment.
The additional chief secretary of the state government confirmed to the BBC that Memon’s body would not be buried inside the prison compound, and would be handed over to his family once a post-mortem had been carried out.
The Yakub Memon case
- 05 August 1994: Yakub Memon is picked up from the New Delhi railway station; he claims he gave himself up in Nepal eight days earlier.
- 27 July 2007 Twelve including Memon sentenced to death, 20 given life sentences.
- 21 March 2013: Supreme court commutes sentences of 10 but confirms death penalty for Memon, saying “his commanding position and the crime of utmost gravity” warranted no less.
- May 2014: President Pranab Mukherjee rejects Yakub’s mercy petition.
- 9 April 2015: Supreme Court rejects mercy plea, confirms death for Yakub.
- 30 July 2015 Supreme Court rejects the final petition filed by Memon – he is executed hours later.
Memon’s case has divided opinion in India, with many calling for the suspension of the death sentence.
Yakub Memon’s brother, Tiger, is widely seen as having been the mastermind behind the attacks, alongside gangland boss Dawood Ibrahim. Both remain in hiding.
Several influential journalists, politicians and members of civil society had sent a letter to the president asking for him to “spare him from the noose of the death for a crime that was master-minded by someone else to communally divide India”.