Yakub Memon was woken up from his solitary prison cell here at 4am today, three hours before his scheduled execution time, as the task of preparing the only death row convict in the 1993 blasts case for the gallows went off without any hitch.
The preparations for the hanging at the Nagpur Central Prison were underway much before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, 1050 km away in Delhi, pronounced its order at 4.50 am, ending the last hope of a reprieve for Yakub on his 53rd birthday today.
And in a little over two hours after the order of the apex court in an unprecedented overnight hearing in a courtroom was pronounced, the hanging of Yakub, a chartered accountant by profession, was carried out at 7 am sharp after the jail procedures were followed with clockwork precision, according to available accounts of the last moments of the convict.
Yakub’s brother Suleman and cousin Usman, who arrived here last evening hoping against hope that he will be spared the gallows through the last-gasp legal battle, were the only family members present to bid him a tearful farewell late last night before returning to the hotel where they were staying.
There was a heavy deployment of police around the high-security prison and mediapersons were not allowed to meet the two relatives of Yakub.
Suleman and Usman returned to the prison this morning after the execution to claim the body. Suleman had last evening moved an application seeking that Yakub’s body be handed over to the family.
After being woken up at 4 am, Yakub took a bath, wore a set of new clothes, took light refreshments and offered prayers and recited a few lines from the Holy Quran.
According to his lawyer, Anil Gedam, Yakub had looked nervous yesterday but was hopeful of some last-minute miracle.
As prescribed by the law, Chief Judicial Magistrate was present to supervise the proceedings and read out the charge against him before the execution.
The timeline for the hanging prepared by the prison officials and which was reported to have been followed:
4-00 am : Yakub Memon woken up in his cell.
4-15 am : Yakub takes bath.
4-30 am : He was given a set of new clothes to wear.
4-45 am : He was offered light refreshment.
5-00 am : A team of doctors conducted last-minute check-up.
5-30 am : Yakub offered prayers and recited `Aayte’ from Holy Quran.
6-00 am : Yakub was moved from his cell to the next cell before execution.
6-15 am : Jail superintendent Yogesh Desai and Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Meera Borwankar carried out inspection of platform and Manila rope which was between one and one and half inches (2.59 to 3.81 cm) in thickness (as per the Jail Manual).
6-30 am : Thick black veil was placed on his face and he was taken to “Fansi Yard”.
6-45 am : The Chief Judicial Magistrate read out the operative part of the TADA Court verdict.
6-50 am : Yakub was made to stand on the hanging platform and the rope was placed and locked around his neck.
6-55 am : All the officials, the hangman, jail authorities reported that the gallows and placement of noose around the neck are in order.
7-00 am : The CJM signalled the hangman to pull the lever. After 30 minutes the hanging body was lowered and doctors declared Yakub dead.
The body was then taken for autopsy and subsequently wrapped and placed in a coffin which was handed over to Suleman and Usman who accompanied it on a scheduled commercial flight to Mumbai.