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Yakub Memon woken up three hours before hanging

Nagpur: 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 4.50am, 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 beign 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.