New Delhi: Yakub Memon – the only accused person from the series of communal riots and bomb blasts that shook Mumbai from December 1992 to March 1993 to be sentenced to death – was hanged today, becoming the third terror convict to have been sent to the gallows in the last four years.
Memon, who would have turned 53 today, was executed around 7 am at Nagpur Central Jail.
His end came soon after the Supreme Court, in an extraordinary late night hearing that ran from 3:18 am till 5 in the morning, rejected a final appeal by lawyers arguing on his behalf that the court’s own guidelines mandated a 14-day gap between the rejection of his mercy petition by the President on Wednesday and his actual execution.
Before Memon, Mohammed Afzal Guru, convicted of being part of the December 2001 conspiracy to attack Parliament, was hanged at Tihar jail in the Capital on February 9, 2013.
Afzal’s death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2004 but the sentence took nine years to be carried out.
On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed terrorists had stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons. The terrorists themselves were eventually shot dead but the police subsequently arrested four persons for being part of the conspiracy, all of whom were found guilty by a special anti-terrorism court. Along with Guru, two others were sentenced to death, one of whom was later found innocent on appeal by the Delhi High Court while the second had his death sentence commuted by the Supreme Court.
Prior to Afzal, Ajmal Kasab, the sole Pakistani gunman involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to have been captured alive, was hanged to death at the Yerwada central prison in Pune on November 21, 2012, in an operation that was shrouded in secrecy.
Ten Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists had descended on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 and unleashed mayhem, targeting many of the city’s landmarks, including Hotel Taj and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. 166 people, including some foreigners, had been killed in the most brazen terror assault.
Nine of the perpetrators were killed during the 60-hour siege and Kasab was captured alive.