Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Sunday mounted a spirited defence of Yakub Memon, set to be executed for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, but made a U-turn and apologised after his comments provoked strong reactions from political parties and social media users.
"I have not said or implied that Yakub Memon is innocent. I have complete faith in the judicial system of our country," the actor tweeted, hours after he posted about a dozen tweets early on Sunday and said mob boss Tiger Memon, believed to be in Pakistan, should hang instead of Yakub Memon for the bombings.
Faced with criticism following his tweets that also asked Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to confirm whether Tiger Memon is in his country, Salman said: "My dad called & said I should retract my tweets as they have the potential to create misunderstanding. I hereby retract them."
"I would like to unconditionally apologise for any misunderstanding I may have created unintentionally."
But Salman said he stood by his comment that “Tiger Memon should hang for his crimes”. He added: “What I also said is that Yakub Memon should not hang for him.”
"Many lives were lost in the Mumbai blasts. And I have repeatedly said the loss of one innocent life is equal to the loss of all humanity."
After Salman's stand on Yakub Memon triggered a row, his father sought to play down the issue. Salim Khan told a TV news channel: “Whatever Salman has written is ridiculous and meaningless. Salman is ignorant of the issue and people should not take him seriously.”
The actor’s defence for Yakub Memon came amidst a raging debate on whether the 1993 blasts convict should be hanged since he returned to India from Pakistan with the reported intention of clearing his name. The then home minister, SB Chavan, had said Yakub Memon’s arrest had helped “clearly establish beyond doubt that Pakistan was fully involved” in the 1993 bombings.In his early morning tweets, Salman lashed out at Tiger Memon, who has been absconding since the blasts that killed 257 people and injured 1,400 more.