A man who was convicted of helping to raise funds for the 1993 Mumbai bombings, which killed 257 people, has been hanged.
Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, the only death row convict in India’s deadliest terror attack, was executed on his birthday after the country’s president rejected a last-minute mercy plea.
He was hanged inside a prison in western India where he had been incarcerated since 1994.
An accountant, Memon was convicted in 2007 of helping raise funds for the serial blasts that rocked the financial capital. By late Wednesday Memon finally exhausted all the legal avenues open to him in order to escape the death penalty.
His older brother Ibrahim, or “Tiger”, Memon and Dawood Ibrahim, both leading gangsters in Mumbai in the 1990s, are the main suspects in the bombings, seen as revenge for the destruction of a 16th century mosque by Hindu nationalists. Both have fled the country.
Prominent citizens, including retired supreme court judges, had urged President Pranab Mukerjee to commute Memon’s sentence to life in prison.
That appeal reflected both opposition to the death penalty as well as fresh claims by his lawyers that he freely surrendered to Indian authorities in Kathmandu, Nepal, and that his direct links to the bombings had not been sufficiently established.
Indian investigators, along with the main public prosecutor in the case, Ujjwal Nikam, say he was arrested in New Delhi.
The hanging, carried out on Memon’s 53rd birthday, came after a day of dramatic last-ditch efforts by his legal team to commute or at least delay his sentence.
Just two hours before the sentence was carried out India’s Supreme Court had been hearing arguments by his lawyers.
“I have exhausted my remedies,” lawyer Anand Grover told reporters in New Delhi at dawn after the Supreme Court heard Memon’s final plea. “I only hope that Yakub Memon will have a dignified death.”
“There’s no question of victory. I’ve just done my job,” said attorney general Mukul Rohtagi.
The March 12, 1993, bombings ripped through the country’s financial heart, and targeted some of the city’s key centres – the Bombay Stock Exchange, Air India offices, a state transport office, three hotels, a gas station and a cinema.
The bombs, packed into cars, scooters, under a manhole cover and in a hotel room, were detonated over two hours in the afternoon.
The blasts were seen as reven