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The last judgment: Maharashtra kills Yakub Memon, 4th execution in 15 years #RIP [UPDATE-3]

Yakub Memon, convicted in the March 12, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, was hanged till death at the Nagpur Central Jail in Maharashtra today morning, officials said.

He was sent to the gallows - on his 54th birthday on Thursday - after several of his court appeals and clemency petitions were rejected by various courts, including the Bombay high court, the Supreme Court, the Maharashtra governor and the president of India.

Memon was hanged at 6.35 a.m on his 54th birthday. A medical team at the jail pronounced him dead a short while later.

His body was sent for an autopsy by a medical team from a Nagpur government hospital, before being cleared for the last rites.

Update 3: Initially, the jail authorities were not inclined to hand over the body and planned to perform the last rites in an isolated spot in the jail campus. After the hanging, Memon's brother Sulaiman submitted an application to the jail authorities, demanding handing over of the body to enable them perform the last rites in Mumbai.

The request was immediately processed and permission - with stringent conditions - was granted and the body handed over. It was taken to Nagpur airport and flowing in an air ambulance for the funeral rites scheduled on Thursday evening.

A group of lawyers - including Anand Grover, Prashant Bhushan, Nitya Ramakrishnan, Yug Chaudhary, Vrinda Grover and Rishabh Sancheti, with advocate-on-record Anindita Pujari - had tried unsuccessfully in the night to obtain a last-ditch stay from Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu at his residence challenging the President’s rejection of his final mercy petition earlier that same night.

Their attempt follows a dramatic day in the Supreme Court before a three-judge bench of justices Dipak Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy, which failed to win any relief for Memon despite detailed arguments by his counsel, Raju Ramachandran, and TR Andhyarujina, the counsel for the intervenor, NLU Delhi’s death penalty litigation clinic.

Memon was the fourth person to be executed in 15 years, after Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004, Ajmal Kasab in 2012 and Afzal Guru in 2013.

Memon was also the first and only convict out of 100 allegedly involved in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. The death sentence of 11 others was commuted to life.

A Mumbai Special Court had sentenced him to death in July 2007.

The death warrant was issued by a Special TADA Court judge on April 29, scheduling the execution for July 30, with Maharashtra having started preparations for the noose for Memon almost three weeks ago.

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Reactions

Update 1: #Yakubhanged, a hashtag used by twitteratis to share their views about 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused Yakun Memon's execution, was a top trend on Twitter on Thursday.

At least three out of the 10 trending hashtags -- #YakubHanged, #IndiaKaInsaf and #Memon at 9.30 a.m. -- were related to Memon's execution.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted:

“I hope similar commitment of government and judiciary would be shown in all cases of terror irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.”

Update 2: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted:

Saddened by news that our government has hanged a human being. State-sponsored killing diminishes us all by reducing us to murderers too.

There is no evidence that death penalty serves as a deterrent, to the contrary in fact. All it does is exact retribution, unworthy of a Government.

cold-blooded execution has never prevented a terror attack anywhere.

Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel said:

This morning, the Indian government essentially killed a man in cold blood to show that killing is wrong.

This execution will not deliver justice for the 1993 Mumbai blasts. It is a misguided attempt to prevent terrorism, and a disappointing use of the criminal justice system as a tool for retribution.

Patel said authorities often find it convenient to hold up capital punishment as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime, and choose to ignore more difficult and effective solutions like improving investigations, prosecutions and care for victims' families.

Update 4: Kashmir lawmaker protests, taken into custody

An independent lawmaker in Kashmir on Thursday criticised the hanging of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon and termed his execution as "a selective one that smacks of communal bias".

"The way government of India and the judiciary showed urgency in convicting and subsequent hanging of Yakub Memon clearly shows a communal bias while dealing with the cases of a particular community," said independent legislator, Engineer Rashid.

"Such an urgency is nowhere to be seen when it comes to cases relating to people involved in massacre of Muslims."

Rashid led a protest rally in Srinagar's city centre Lal chowk and held a symbolic sit-in near the clock tower in commercial hub of the city.

Rashid along with his two dozen supporters were taken into preventive custody by police.

The protestors also raised slogans in favour of Afzal Guru, hanged in 2013 due to his involvement in the 2001 parliament attack case.

"We want to ask Delhi who among Muslims is to be hanged next. As three people executed in the last three years are all Muslims. Why law is made to bend in cases involving people from Hindu-fundamentalist organisations," the lawmaker said.

He said it is ironical that people involved in the Babri Masjid demolition and anti-Muslim pogroms are roaming scot-free and even occupying important positions in the country.

"If this selective targeting of Muslims continues it has the potential of communally dividing the country," he added.

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