Nine family members of Tiger Memon, the fugitive main accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, were brought to India in 1994 from Sharjah in a highly classified operation on then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao’s watch, documents accessed by Hindustan Times reveal.
Besides Rao, foreign minister Dinesh Singh, cabinet secretary Surendra Singh and foreign secretary K Srinivasan monitored the developments during the operation involving intelligence agencies, the Dubai consul general and CBI.
The documents contradict the perception that Tiger Memon’s brother, death-row convict Yakub Memon, was picked up in Kathmandu on August 5, 1994, as part of a surrender deal which was followed by his family giving in later that month.
The papers suggest Indian diplomats and agents remained alert and anxious till the Memon family members reached Delhi on August 25, 1994. It is understood that they were later flown from Delhi to Mumbai on a chartered plane. Yakub’s wife Rahin arrived on September 4, 1994, because of a last-minute hitch.
Tiger’s father Abdul Razak Memon, mother Haneef, brother Suleman and his wife Rubina, and younger siblings Isha and Yusuf were among the Memons who left Sharjah that day.
On August 22, 1994, the then secretary (east) in the foreign ministry telegrammed the consul general in Dubai, with a copy marked to Prime Minister Rao, that he would be approached by an Indian agent seeking visas for a number of Pakistani passport-holders. The consul general was told to grant them Indian visas immediately with no delay whatsoever and maintain utmost confidentiality. The wire was marked to the foreign secretary, home secretary and cabinet secretary as well.
On August 25, 1994, the consul general sent a crash telegram to the secretary (east) informing that nine members of the Memon family left for Delhi from Sharjah on the 4.45 am Indian Airlines flight. The message maintained that a woman (Rahin Memon) could not leave because the Pakistani consulate had not returned her passport, which was submitted for entering particulars of a child (Yakub’s daughter) born a few days ago. Rahin was accommodated in the apartment of a non-diplomatic staff member (read agent).
It is evident from the telegram that the entire Indian consulate was anxious to ensure everything went smoothly during the send-off. The Indian agencies were under order to intervene immediately if anything went wrong. The consul general informed the secretary (east) that photocopies of the Pakistani passports issued to the Memons had been obtained by the Indian agencies.
Further, the wire said an Indian agent had given signed affidavits by each Memon family member, testifying that they were Indians and wished to return to India. These affidavits were later sent by diplomatic bag.
Then again on September 4, the consul general told the secretary (east) that with great difficulty they were able to persuade the local authorities to grant an exit visa to Rahin, who was sent to Delhi on Air India Flight 732.