MUMBAI:Almost an hour before he was hanged in Nagpur Central Prison at 6.40 am on Thursday, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon had asked prison superintendent Yogesh Desai whether he could meet his daughter Zubeida, who turns 21 on Friday.
Desai politely told him that it was not possible as she was not around. Zubeida was just five days old when CBI arrested Yakub and his wife Raheen near the old Delhi railway station on August 5, 1994.
However, she was the last family member to whom Yakub spoke to before he was hanged for hatching the conspiracy to carry out the blasts. He used Desai’s phone to talk to Zubeida on Wednesday evening for three minutes. Though it was not clear what transpired between them, a source said he blessed her on her birthday. He also asked her to take admission for MBA and concentrate on studies.
According to the source, Memon did not say anything except two lines of customary confession before he was hanged. “I accept my guilt. May Allah forgive me,” he said, after which police constable Ram Shinde put a black cloth over his face.
A three-tier security cover was set up inside the prison for Yakub’s death penalty. At least 12 people, including two magistrates, a team of four doctors and prison officials were present in the hanging yard. Senior police officers, including Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Meeran Borwankar and Nagpur Police Commissioner S P Yadav were posted outside the hanging yard. A team of commandos was posted in the outer tier.
Earlier, Desai had announced that Yakub’s body would not be handed over to his relatives. However, he changed his decision after the execution, as the government had declared that the family will be allowed to take possession of the body.
Yakub’s elder brother Suleman, who was acquitted from the case, had given an undertaking that the family would not take out a funeral procession and that the body would not be displayed in public. The jail authorities handed over a sealed envelope to Suleman and his lawyer cousin Osman, who had stayed put in a local hotel, at 2.30 am, informing them about the time of Yakub’s hanging.
The two family members took possession of his body around 8.30 am and took it to their home in a Mumbai suburb on an Indigo Airlines flight. Yakub’s local lawyer Anil Gedam said he did not make any will.
It was the second high-profile hanging for prison superintendent Yogesh Desai and police constable Ram Shinde. The duo had hanged Pakistani terrorist Muhammad Ajmal Kasab, a convict in the November 26, 2008, terror attacks case, in Pune’s Yerwada Central Prison in 2012.
While Desai was transferred to Nagpur from Pune two weeks ago, Shinde had been called in for the hanging four days before the execution.
The events before the execution were unprecedented — civil rights lawyers had, late on Wednesday, made a last-minute effort to save 53-year-old Memon from the noose when they rushed to the residence of Chief Justice of India H L Dattu with a petition for an urgent hearing. It was then informed that a hearing will take place in the Supreme Court premises. The SC has never before been opened in the wee hours for a hearing. Following the 90-minute hearing, the bench rejected the plea and Yakub was executed.