Yakub Memon’s Surrender And Arrest: What Really Happened
Yakub Memon will be executed for his role in the 1993 Bombay blast in which 257 people died and more than 700 were injured.
There is a huge debate over whether a man who surrendered and nailed the Pakistani ISI’s role in the serial blasts should be hanged to death, or not.
But even regarding the surrender, there exist only theories as to how Indian authorities secured Yakub Memon’s custody.
THE most credible account of how Yakub Memon was arrested has come from the RAW officer who directed the entire operation. B Raman used to head the Pakistan Desk at India’s spy agency and wrote an article in 2007 which has now been published on Rediff.com on why Yakub Memon did not deserve the death penalty.
The prosecution was right in saying that Yakub was arrested in Old Delhi. Yakub was right in claiming that he was not arrested in Old Delhi. In July 1994, some weeks before my retirement, he was informally picked up in Kathmandu, with the help of the Nepal police, driven across Nepal to a town in Indian territory, flown to Delhi by an aircraft of the Aviation Research Centre and formally arrested in Old Delhi by the investigating authorities and taken into custody for interrogation. The entire operation was coordinated by me.
While B Raman is the most authoritative voice to have spoken about how Yakub Memon was arrested, he did not want this article to be published during his lifetime. But this account was not exactly unknown to the media back in 2007.
In 2007, senior journalist Maseeh Rehman reported that Yakub had travelled from Karachi to Kathmandu to meet his lawyer cousin from Mumbai who was helping him “clear his name”, and that he was “fully prepared to surrender”. He had, reportedly, carried the evidence that consisted of a cache of documents, video and audio cassettes to Kathmandu in a burgundy briefcase. He was, according to Maseeh Rahman, walking through airport security to fly back to Karachi, when a large bunch of keys that looked like a handgun showed up in the X-ray image.
The briefcase was opened and out tumbled the Memon family’s Indian passports. Yakub was detained, and eventually landed in CBI hands on August 4 (1994).
– The Indian Express Archives
Surrender Or Arrest?
Maseeh Rahman insists Yakub Memon had come prepared to surrender. He was traveling light – his luggage primarily consisted of a cache of documents, videos and audio cassettes establishing Pakistan’s complicity in protecting the Memons after the bombings, if not revealing the actual role in masterminding the conspiracy.
But the CBI continues to claim that it arrested Yakub Memon from the New Delhi Railway Station on August 5, 1994. As per the official version, Yakub Memon, who at the time had a Rs 5 lakh award on him, was arrested at 4:30 AM on August 5 by four CBI officials who were “waiting in the shadows after a tip off on the phone”. At the time of the arrest, Yakub Memon was reportedly wearing a burgundy Pathan suit and mustard shoes and was carrying a briefcase “full of incriminating documents” and a suitcase.
Before Yakub Memon, 32, younger brother of Ibrahim alias Mushtaq alias Tiger Memon, the smuggler who engineered the March 12, 1993 Bombay blasts that killed 317 people, could enter the station, he was taken away to the lockup at CBI headquarters off Lodhi Road.
– 31 August 1994 India Today report
Later that day, the Union Home Minister SB Chavan informed Members of Parliament about the arrest, who thumped their hands in approval.
But when he was presented before the Magistrate, Yakub Memon claimed he had been intercepted by Interpol officials in Kathmandu. An investigative report by India Today corroborates that claim. It says Yakub Memon had flown in to Kathmandu from Karachi on the morning of July 21 to meet his cousin who had arrived from Mumbai. Yakub had to ticket to fly back to Karachi on July 24, but he was intercepted during a routine security check after he had crossed the immigration desk. The airport authorities first informed Interpol and then New Delhi.
After interrogation in Kathmandu, Yakub was handed over blindfolded at Sunnauli bordering Uttar Pradesh at 3 a.m. on July 28. He was taken to Gorakhpur two hours away and then flown to the capital in a special plane.
– 31 August 1994 India Today report
Yakub Memon did not reveal the entire truth but by contradicting CBI’s official version, he did lead the Indian media on to the possibility that there was more to the story. The Indian government wanted to prove Pakistan ISI’s complicity in the blasts and Yakub claimed he wanted to clear the Memon family’s name. So the question then arises, was there some sort of a barter?
Deal That Wasn’t
A July 2007 news report quotes sources as saying that as per the “deal” between Yakub Memon and the Indian authorities, the women members would be questioned, but not arrested, while the male members would be arrested and helped to get bail.
The Indian government reneged on this deal, according to Shyam Keswani who represented Memon in the initial stages of the case.
A senior investigating officer of the CBI called us for a meeting in one of the bungalows opposite the Secretariat....The CBI officer told me to file a bail plea and that the CBI would not oppose it. The reason for this, he said, was that Memon had helped the agency unravel things it would not have been able to in 30-35 years...The next day I filed a bail application, but the CBI opposed it tooth and nail. Later I met the same CBI officer and asked him why were you joking with me? He apologised and told me the Government of India has changed its stand... He was betrayed by the Government of India.
– Shyam Keswani, Former Counsel, Yakub Memon to ABP Live
Even after his “arrest” on 5 August 1994, Yakub Memon did not reveal the entire details of his “arrangement” with the Indian authorities in the hope that co-operating with the CBI would come in handy later. And while the Indian media appeared to be aware that some sort of a deal had been struck, details were sketchy and no single narrative has emerged.
If there ever was a deal, there exist no document, no piece of paper to prove it.