Yakub Memon won't live to see his 53rd birthday?

Jul 22, 2015, 06:27 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Yakub Memon, whose behaviour has reportedly been erratic since Monday and became worse after he heard about the rejection of his curative petition yesterday, may not live to see his 53rd birthday

Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, whose behaviour has reportedly been erratic since Monday and became worse after he heard about the rejection of his curative petition yesterday, may not live to see his 53rd birthday. (Read Story: SC dismisses Yakub Memon's curative plea)

All hands on deck: Security has been beefed up outside the Nagpur Central Prison, where Yakub Memon is likely to be hanged.
All hands on deck: Security has been beefed up outside the Nagpur Central Prison, where Yakub Memon (below) is likely to be hanged.

mid-day had reported on July 16 that the likely date for Yakub’s hanging was July 30, which would, incidentally, have been the day the alleged 1993 Mumbai blasts mastermind turned 53, but Intelligence Bureau officials told this newspaper yesterday that there is a high likelihood of him being hanged on July 29 — a day earlier than planned.

Also Read: 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon files mercy petition

Yakub Memon

This, according to the officials, may be done to foil terrorist organisations’ plans, if any, to carry out attacks on the same day as Yakub’s hanging.

Jail officials told mid-day that if Yakub is hanged in Nagpur Central Prison, which is most likely since he is housed there, the hanging will be overseen by the same Prison Superintendent, Yogesh Desai, who had handled Ajmal Qasab’s hanging in 2012.

1993 serial blasts: Yakub Memon family members also faced trial

Yakub’s lawyer, meanwhile, told mid-day that his client is planning to file another mercy petition before the President, on the grounds that the previous petition, which had been rejected last year, was filed by Yakub’s brother, Suleman. The petition was sent to the Governor yesterday.

According to officials at the Nagpur Central Prison, where Yakub is being held, the high-profile prisoner’s behaviour
has been erratic — oscillating between periods where he screams and creates a ruckus, and times when he maintains a studied silence and keeps to himself — since his cousin, Usman Memon, went to visit him on Monday. They said he claimed to be suffering from a mental disorder.

They said his behaviour worsened when the news of the Supreme Court dismissing his curative petition reached Yakub — who will be the first person to be hanged in the 1993 blasts case — yesterday.

Officials added, however, that Yakub was taken to a doctor, who said there was nothing wrong with him. They said Yakub may be behaving the way he is on purpose to gain sympathy and lend credence to his lawyer’s argument that he has been suffering from schizophrenia since 1996, which was also part of his plea before the SC. “Yakub was fine till July 15, when reports of his likely hanging first emerged, but became silent after that. While he had been sharing his iftar food with other prisoners until then, on Eid, he kept to himself and wrote letters to his family. His brother Usman visited him on Monday and again today (Tuesday), with the latter’s lawyer, Shubal Farooque,” said a jail official.

“His behaviour has been erratic since Monday and he has been claiming he is suffering from a psychological disorder. We took him to prison doctors, who said he is fine. He may be doing all this to gain sympathy,” he added.

Another petition
This becomes especially important in view of the fact that Yakub is now planning to file another mercy petition before President Pranab Mukherjee, who had rejected one such petition last year.

Speaking to mid-day, Yakub’s Nagpur lawyer, Anil Gedam, said, “Yakub has written a letter to the President praying for mercy. Yakub’s initial mercy petition, which was dismissed by the President in 2014, was filed by his brother Suleman and there are chances that this was the reason the petition was dismissed. I have collected Yakub’s petition and it has reached the Governor of Maharashtra, who will forward it to the President.”

Practice on
Officials at the Nagpur prison said practice to hang Yakub has been on since July 16, and the process will come closer to resembling the actual hanging a week before the death sentence is carried out.

“We had planned to keep Yakub, who is currently in the anda barrack, in an isolated cell, where an inspector and three constables would keep an eye on him around the clock. But, he refused to move till the SC decided on his petition. He will now be shifted to an isolated cell and will be given white clothes.

1993 Mumbai blasts: Yakub Memon could be hanged on July 30

The pyjama he will wear will have a button instead of a drawstring so that he doesn’t injure himself,” said a jail official. “Daily practice has begun from July 16. On Friday, the rope with a diameter of 6 cm, which will be used to hang Yakub, was prepared with coir, nylon and cotton. It will be dipped in ghee so that it slides onto his neck smoothly. All the processes are being followed as per the provisions laid down in the Maharashtra Prison Manual, 1978,” he added. “We will be taking his height and weight, and a dummy will be made according to those specifications using cotton, rubber and nylon. The constables will practise with the dummy for two hours every day,” said the official.

Qasab connection
“Three constables have already been trained for the hanging under Prison Superintendent Yogesh Desai, who was earlier in-charge during the Ajmal Qasab hanging in the Yerawada Central Prison in Pune. One of the constables who served as a hangman for Qasab’s hanging, who is now deployed in Kolhapur, has also been called to Nagpur, and he is expected to be here in two days,” said another official.

1984 The year the last hanging had taken place in the Nagpur Central Prison

Petition dismissed

The SC yesterday dismissed the curative petition of Yakub Memon, the lone death row convict in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts that left 257 dead and over 700 injured. A three judge-bench, headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, rejected Memon’s plea, saying that the grounds raised by him do not fall within the principles laid down by the apex court in 2002 for deciding curative petitions. Memon, in his plea, had claimed he was suffering from schizophrenia since 1996 and remained behind the bars for nearly 20 years. He had sought commutation of death penalty contending that a convict cannot be awarded life term and the extreme penalty simultaneously for the same offence.

Countdown to the hanging

As per prison officials, the following process will be followed for Yakub’s hanging:
Three days to D-day: Yakub will be asked, as his dying wish, what he would like to eat and the food that he requests will be provided to him the same day or a day later
Two days to D-day:A spiritual leader will visit him and speak to him for 15 minutes
One day to D-day: The night before his execution, Yakub will be kept in the faasi yard, which is just 30 metres from the gallows. Doctors will examine him and note his blood pressure and other vital stats

D-day: Three constables trained as hangmen, a medical officer, a tehsildar, magistrate, a senior officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Prisons or above, the prison superintendent, three sub-inspectors, a religious leader and three other constables will be present for the hanging

5.20 am: The process of preparing for the hanging will begin, and the hangmen will check the gallows and the equipment. The tehsildar will examine the medical reports as well as the gallows, and give his final nod.

6 am: Yakub will be given hot water for a bath

6.55 am: He will be brought to the gallows and made to wear a black hood

7 am: An officer will initiate the countdown. While looking at his watch, he will raise his right hand. He will count down from three, and as soon as that is complete, he will lower his hand. The hangman manning the lever used to throw open the door under the prisoner’s feet will pull the lever as soon as the hand goes down. This is supposed to happen in sync.

A few minutes after 7: Yakub’s body will be brought down and kept on a stretcher, where it will be examined by a doctor, who will declare him dead.

7.25 am: The process will be complete. An inquest will be carried out under the supervision of the magistrate. The rope will be checked, sealed and then kept with the prison department

‘Nagpur, july 29’
An Intelligence Bureau official told mid-day that while Maharashtra has two prisons — the Yerawada Central Prison in Pune and the Nagpur Central Prison — where hangings can take place, Yakub is most likely to be hanged in the latter.

The date for his hanging may be July 29, the official said. “An alert has been declared in Maharashtra and Gujarat after Yakub Memon’s petition was dismissed by Supreme Court on Tuesday. There are around 80 per cent chances of Yakub being hanged in Nagpur and 20 per cent of him being hanged in Pune. While Pune may be preferable because the headquarters of the state’s prisons, Intelligence Bureau, CID and Force One are there, Nagpur may be the choice because Yakub is already housed there and for several other reasons,” he said.

“Pune has seven convicts in the 1993 blasts case, including Sanjay Dutt, and that may be one reason why the hanging may not take place there. The city has also been on the terror hitlist since Qasab was hanged there in 2012. There are also high chances of Yakub being hanged on July 29,” added the officer.

Deep drop
“The distance between the door under the prisoner’s feet and the ground below is about 15 feet. The prison manual instructs us to ensure that the death is not merciless and to ensure a relatively painless death, the distance for which the body is allowed to fall is decided based on the prisoner’s height and weight. If a person weighs around 100 kg, for instance, and his height is around 6 feet, the drop will be around 10 feet for him,” said a female prison official.

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