No secret deal was struck with Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, on death row for one of India's deadliest terror attacks, but the Central Bureau of Investigation did use its contacts in Pakistan to "induce the Memons to believe that their safety lay in India," a former CBI official investigating the case in 1993 has told NDTV.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a split verdict on a plea by Memon, the lone death convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, seeking stay of his scheduled execution on July 30 and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India. While Justice A R Dave dismissed his plea, Justice Kurian Joseph stayed the death warrant issued on April 30 for his execution on July 30.
Several eminent Indians, including film makers, activists and politicians, have petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee to stay Memon's execution citing 'procedural lapses' in the way his case was handled.
"We learnt, very confidentially from our sources, that as far as the Memon family was concerned, there was an internal disagreement among them," Shantanu Sen, who was the head of the CBI special task force investigating the blasts, told NDTV. Tiger Memon, said to be one of the key conspirators, allegedly advised his brother Yakub against returning to India.
Sen told NDTV that multiple Indian agencies, including Intelligence Bureau and RAW, were in touch with the Memon family and offered them "the great justice of India."
He insisted that there were no false promises. Yakub was arrested and subsequently he was instrumental in bringing back other family members from Pakistan including two brothers who have been given life sentences, the report said.
The serial blasts in March 1993 had left 257 dead and over 700 injured. Yakub is the only convict whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. The President had rejected his mercy petition in May 2014.
Yakub was convicted by the Supreme Court for financing and planning the serial blasts. His brother Tiger Memon and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, considered the masterminds of the attack, fled India just before the blasts and are believed to be in Pakistan.
A late RAW official had favoured clemency for Yakub on the ground that he had cooperated with investigating agencies and does not deserve to be hanged. B Raman, who retired as Additional Secretary in 1994 and was in-charge of counter-terrorism, had written an article for publication containing this view but stopped it from seeing the light of the day following an after thought.
The article on Rediff.com talks about Memon being picked up in Nepal and his subsequent formal arrest at Old Delhi railway station by the CBI. Chennai-based B S Raghavan, brother of the late Raman, said "everything that has been published is correct and he (Raman) had written it". Raman, who passed away in 2013, had written about a "moral dilemma" in his mind ever since he had read about the sentencing of Memon to death by the court in 2006.
"There is not an iota of doubt about the involvement of Yakub and other members of the family in the conspiracy and their cooperation with the ISI till July 1994. In normal circumstances, Yakub would have deserved the death penalty if one only took into consideration his conduct and role before July 1994.
"But if one also takes into consideration his conduct and role after he was informally picked up in Kathmandu, there is a strong case for having second thoughts about the suitability of the death penalty in the subsequent stages of the case," said the article which has been published after taking permission from his brother.