A controversy erupted over “beautification” of the grave of Yakub Memon, 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict who was hanged to death at the Nagpur Jail in 2015, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming that the grave was “beautified” during Uddhav Thackeray’s tenure and that he must apologise.
State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said Thackeray should apologise to the people of Mumbai and Maharashtra for the “beautification” attempt.
However, Shiv Sena leaders have maintained that the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government-led by Thackeray had nothing to do with and an unnecessary controversy was made out of the grave “beautification”. They said that the issue is being raked up now to divert attention from pressing issues such as unemployment and inflation.
After photos and videos of the Memon’s grave were widely circulated on social media, Mumbai police sprung to action on Thursday and removed the LED lights that were installed at the grave at the Bada Kabrastan in south Mumbai. Police had said that halogen lights were installed in the Bada Kabrastan on the occasion of Badi Raat (Shab-e-Barat). It has been removed by Kabrastan trustees, PTI reported.
Further police said that the marble tiles at the grave, which also has the remains of 13 other family members of Memon, were put up three years ago.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that an inquiry has been ordered and investigation is underway, adding that action will be taken against people who were involved in it, ANI reported.
Reacting to the allegations by Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency, Arvind Sawant, said that the grave in Bada Kabrastan is a private property and Shiv Sena was being dragged into the issue to divert attention from serious issues.
“Why drag the Shiv Sena into this issue? This is nothing but an attempt to divert people’s attention from serious issues facing the country. It is also an attempt to create communal tension in the society,” he alleged.
Demanding a probe into the beautification, Sawant further asked why Memon’s body, who was hanged during the ruling BJP’s term in 2015, was handed over to his family.
“America gave Osama bin Laden a burial at sea. The body of 26/11 terror attacks convict Ajmal Kasab was also not handed over to his kin,” he pointed out.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also said that the BJP is raking up this issue now as it wants to disrupt peace ahead of the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls.
Thackeray told reporters that BJP should first reply why Memon’s body was allowed to be buried following his hanging in 2015, adding that the Mumbai blasts convict was buried in a private place, and BMC had no role in it.
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ajit Pawar said that the “beautification” should not have happened as Memon was a “deshdrohi” (traitor).
On the question of BJP blaming the MVA government for the “beautification”, Pawar said that it is only because of Shiv Sena that BJP could reach the rural areas.
“Be it any government, no one will want such things to happen during their tenure. Currently, to divert the people’s attention from inflation and unemployment, such issues are being raked up. Since they have their government in the Centre as well as in the state, they should find out who did this and punish those who are responsible,” the senior NCP leader said.