New Delhi: Chhota Shakeel, one of the accused in the Mumbai serial blasts case and the chief henchman of Dawood Ibrahim has angrily reacted to the hanging of Yakub Memon, calling it "a legal murder" and accusing the Indian government of betraying the promises it made to lure him back to India.
A furious Shakeel called up TOI to say that India's "betrayal" had snuffed out the possibility of Dawood and other fugitives ever contemplating to return India in exchange of promises of leniency. "Dawood bhai would have been meted the same fate if he would have come at that time… it is clear now," he said, of the chief of D-Company, who along with Yakub's elder brother, silver smuggler Tiger Memon, choreographed the carnage in Mumbai in March 1993.
"What message has the Indian government sent across? You have punished an innocent man for his brother's act. The company condemns it. It's a legal murder," Shakeel said in the exclusive conversation in which he chillingly spoke of "consequences" for the hanging. "Woh (consequences) to hoga hi,' he said.
Shakeel said Tiger was the real culprit, and insisted that Yakub was innocent and was hanged for the acts of his brother.
He said nobody (from the Company or anyone else) will buy the government's "chocolate" in future. "Nobody will believe your agencies if they make a promise next time. Nobody will trust the Indian government in future," said Dawood's lieutenant who appeared to have closely tracked Yakub's trial especially in the closing stages and came off as someone who was well-conversant with the ways of the Supreme Court.
When asked if he thinks Tiger was involved, Shakeel said, "His role is mentioned in the chargesheet. But the government prosecuted someone who had taken audios and videos as evidence with him. He did not agree with the accused and decided to be lawful. What did he get?"
Significantly, he specifically denied that Yakub had links with Dawood.
Stating that Yakub's return to India was part of an understanding with agencies, he said: " His( Yakub) family's visa was put up in Dubai. He called his family there and then surrendered. What for?" Shakeel fumed. "What has changed with this execution? Have you received anything new? He has suffered… Somebody has done something but you punish his brother. His brother is mental, you punished him too… mother too… Bring him and hang the one who has done it."
"Somebody trusted a government but the government breached the trust. The company doesn't have any faith in the government Who will come back to get killed?" His wife came to India with a few months old child and stayed in jail for months.. What justice is this.. He cooperated but what did you do to him…"
On Dawood's links with Yakub, Shakeel, whose named spelt fear in Mumbai not long ago, said, "He (Yakub) was accused of association with Dawood bhai. That's not true."
The focus of his attack was on Indian agencies with Shakeel saying that they they do not trust their own officers. "First of all. You don't trust your officers! B Raman and many others… nobody trusted his writing," Shakeel said, referring to the article of the reputed former R&AW officer where he had argued for Yakub being spared the gallows for bringing evidence of Pakistan's authorship of the serial blasts. The suggestion of a "deal" in the article provided fodder for the defence team of Yakub as they argued for the commutation of death sentence in the last lap of the judicial process.
"Dilli ka ek officer… CBI ka… usne bola ki iska role nahi hai… par tum logo ne uska believe nahi kiya…"
He hit out at Ujjawal NIkam for the prosecutor's purported statement that the hanging of Yakub was a message to terrorists. " Ujjawal Nikam ne bola ki ek message de rahe hain un logon ko…Yaar haemin message den eke liye begunaaho ko faasi pe latka rahe ho."
Shakeel also questioned the practice in the Supreme Court where a judgement is reviewed by the same bench which delivered it in the first place. "Jis Jagah Supreme Court me jaati hai petition, usi judge ko raat ke dedh baje baithaate ho.. Kabhi hoga justice?