It was not just the Supreme Court judges, lawyers and members of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon’s family who spent a sleepless night ahead of his Thursday execution. Jail and police authorities in Nagpur didn’t get any shut eye either.
As Yakub’s body was flown out of Nagpur by his family, the entire prison machinery – led by additional director general of police (prison) Meeran Borwankar and jail superintendent Yogesh Desai – heaved a collective sigh of relief as no untoward incident was reported.
Prohibitory orders were imposed around the jail premises with hundreds of security personnel posted around the city and a nationwide alert sounded but administration was on tenterhooks till early morning as his execution went down the wire.
A three-judge SC bench assembled at 3am to hear a last-ditch petition by senior lawyers who argued 14 days should be given after Yakub’s mercy petition was rejected by the President but were turned down by the top court.
Hundreds of miles away in Nagpur, Borwankar and Desai, who were camped inside the jail until sunrise, decided to go ahead with the necessary formalities and prepare for the hanging as they waited for the apex court’s verdict.
A few minutes before 5am, the court rejected the appeal and said Yakub would be hanged as per the special TADA court directives at 7am on July 30, the day he turned 53.
Minutes after the decision, the jail was turned into a fortress. A large contingent of the state police, quick response teams and para-military forces were deployed in the area with anti-landmine vehicles and modern weapons to tackle any possible flare-ups
By then, Yakub was already awake and had taken a warm bath. He was given a set of fresh clothes along with a copy of the holy Quran.
As the time of the execution drew close, a large crowd gathered outside the jail on Wardha road, located on the National Highway 7, a north-south arterial link that ran through Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.