Raheen, 42, Zubeda, 21, and Rizwana Akbar, the wife, daughter and sister-in-law of 1993 serial blasts convict Yakub Memon, arrived in Nagpur to meet him on Thursday – perhaps for the last time – before he is hanged.
They arrived in Nagpur by the Duronto Express from Mumbai on Thursday morning with two other relatives and approached the jail authorities to meet Memon, who had been shifted to Nagpur jail from Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail in 2007. They met him around 9.30 am amid tight security; the meeting lasted over an hour. According to a source, Memon was in tears while talking to his wife and daughter.
The Memons said they preferred to travel to Nagpur by train rather than by air and their overnight journey was kept secret. After their meeting, they refused to speak to journalists outside the jail and left in a private vehicle around 11am. The family had planned to meet Memon earlier this month and had booked train tickets for July 4. However, they later postponed the visit.
Two days ago, the Supreme Court had rejected Memon’s curative petition against capital punishment, following which he filed a mercy petition addressed to the governor of Maharashtra.
In a last-ditch effort to help him escape the death penalty, another appeal was filed on Memon’s behalf in the Supreme Court on Thursday. While filing the petition, Memon’s lawyer Anil Gedam said his death warrant had been issued before he had exhausted all available legal options – specifically, the Supreme Court’s ruling on his curative petition – in violation of the rules. A curative petition is one in which a death-row prisoner asks the Supreme Court to review its own judgement.
According to jail officials, Memon, who is believed to suffer from schizophrenia, has been restless for the past couple of days and has been taking sleeping pills every night. He was treated at JJ Hospital for a mental illness, but officials said his symptoms reduced after he was shifted to Nagpur jail.
According to a source, Memon suffered bouts of depression brought on by loneliness when he was at Arthur Road jail as he had been kept in solitary confinement in an ‘anda cell’.
Memon, who was otherwise quiet, would open up to psychiatrists at Nagpur jail, according to an official who did not wish to be named. Gedam, however, said he saw no signs of mental illness during his meetings with Memon. “Whenever I’ve met him, I’ve found him to be very sober, healthy and humane,” he said.