Meeran Chadha Borwankar, former Inspector General (Prisons), Maharashtra was amongst those few officers who witnessed the elimination of two of the most deadly terrorists in the country. Borwankar oversaw the hanging of 26/11 Mumbai attack accused Amir Ajmal Kasab in 2012 and 1993 Mumbai blasts case convict Yakub Memon in 2015. The officer revealed that the two cases were contrastingly different than each other as in Kasab’s case secrecy was the priority and in Memon’s hanging, the entire nation was watching us.
In an interview to the Indian Express, the retired Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development opened about the proceedings of the two of the biggest conviction in Indian judiciary and how the two accused were hanged to death. Borwankar is the only women officer who had witnessed the two hangings; in the interview, she revealed about the complications in the two cases.
Kasab was kept in the custody of ITBP at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai from where he had to be shifted to Pune for the execution. Amid fears of a possible attack to kill him beforehand as some hostile nations didn’t want his part in the 26/11 attack to come out in open, a Crime Branch team was picked to carry out the transfer. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway was used for the movement and the highway police were put on high alert, the only lady officer to have witnessed the execution told the Indian Express.
She also added, that the responsible officers reached Yerawada Jail in Pune well before time and they didn’t use their official vehicles to avoid any media interference, everything was kept a secret and no media house had any information on the movement, however, there was one journalist who found out of the movement but not about the execution process.
Mentioning that all the reports on Kasab’s last words and his wishes were rumours, she said, “last words and wishes” were just speculation. “I don’t think Kasab even understood what was happening to him. He seemed dazed. We took him for hanging early morning on November 21. As per rules, the prison doctor and a magistrate, in this case, the Pune Collector, were present. After the hanging, we performed the last rites as per his religion.
Pakistan Government was informed about the procession and Kasab’s body was offered, but the Pak High Commission refused the body and said that Kasab wasn’t their citizen and they had nothing to do with it, she recalled on being asked about claims for Kasab’s body.
Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab was a Pakistani national associated with terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and was arrested alive by Mumbai police during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on 26th November, 2008. After being found guilty of 80 offences including murder, possessing explosives and other charges, he was hanged on 21 November 2012 at 7:30 am and buried at Yerwada Jail in Pune.
Two and a half years later, the officer was handed a similar kind of responsibility for execution of 1993 Mumbai blast case convict Yakub Memon in July 2015 in Nagpur. The same team of officers was called for Memon’s execution, but there were differences in the two processions, Borwankar was quoted saying in the report. “This case was very different because the family was very active. His cousins came and met me and said they would get a stay from the court.”
Recalling the sensitive case, Borwankar said, she was stunned when she got a call from the Chief Minister’s office and was informed that the scene of hanging had been leaked, but it was later found that the clip circulating on whtsapp was a scene from a Hindi movie where a lady officer is shown hanging an accused.
Yakub Abdul Razak Memon was a terrorist involved in 1193 Bombay blasts, he filed mercy plea with Supreme Court of India which was rejected by the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. Following which Memon was hanged in Nagpur Jail on 30 July 2015.
Meeran Chadha Borwankar put forth an example by not stepping back when the government ordered her to supervise the two executions and said, “when I was asked by the government to supervise the two hangings, I thought that when I had conceptualised the entire operation till the last detail, not to be present for the execution would be seen as a comment on my gender. People would say she couldn’t take it because she is a woman.”