Yakub Memon, a convict in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, is likely to be executed on July 30 if the Supreme Court turns down his mercy plea. If the execution is carried out, it will be the first in connection with the violence that rocked Mumbai resulting in the death of over 250 people in 1993.
The Supreme Court rejected a review petition filed by Memon on April 9 following which the Maharashtra government started the process for the hanging after a nod from the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court.
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Memon has filed a second review petition with the top court, which is expected to come up on July 21.
The 53-year-old is lodged in Nagpur Central Jail, which reportedly has facility to carry out capital punishment.
According to sources, a death warrant has been issued for the hanging.
Memon, a key conspirator with Dawood Ibrahim in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, is one of ten convicts awarded death penalty by a special TADA court. He is the brother of Ibrahim Memon, also known as Tiger Memon, who is the prime accused in the case and missing.
His death sentence was upheld by a Supreme Court bench on March 21, 2013. President Pranab Mukherjee rejected Memon's mercy petition earlier this year.
Amid reports that Memon will be hanged this month end, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said his government would follow the directives of the Supreme Court on the issue. "Whatever we do will be made public at an appropriate time," said Fadnavis, who is in New Delhi said on Wednesday.
"The Supreme Court has made a decision on this issue. Whatever directives will be given by the court, the Maharashtra government will act according to that. We will provide more information on this matter when the time is right," Fadnavis said.
A senior prison official told PTI that any decision on the date of hanging will depend on the outcome of the curative petition in SC.
Meanwhile, Special Public Prosecutor in the case Ujjwal Nikam said that if the prime conspirator, Yakub Memon, is sent to the gallows, it will send a strong message in society. "During the trial of 1993 serial blasts, it was proved that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan and some persons (Indians) were sent to Karachi via Dubai," Nikam told PTI.
Though Pakistan's hand in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts was established, the world did not believe it, he said. "After the 26/11 case, it is now proved that terrorism is sponsored by Pakistan," Nikam added.
Meanwhile, Nagpur prison authorities evaded questions on whether they had any information on the possible date of hanging. Asked if the prison has received the death warrant, Jail Superintendent Yogesh Desai pleaded ignorance stating "it is (something) at the government level". "I have no idea," he added. Prison officials, however, said the jail is equipped with all the necessary facilities to carry out the execution.
Samajwadi Party legislator Abu Asim Azmi criticised the state government over "leaking of Memon's execution date". "When there was so much secrecy over date of Kasab and Afzal Guru's hanging, why is Memon's execution date announced through media," Azmi told reporters outside Vidhan Bhawan in Mumbai.
The government is trying to create a communal atmosphere, the SP leader said. "It is wrong to declare the execution date in such a manner despite the fact that his plea is being considered by SC," Azmi said.
Image: 1993 blasts convict Yakub Memon