Actor Salman Khan found himself at the centre of a controversy today after saying Yakub Memon, the man on death row for the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, should not be hanged. Yakub's brother, Tiger Memon, the main accused in the case and who is absconding, should be sent to the gallows, the Bollywood actor had said.
Tiger Memon had allegedly masterminded the blast along with Dawood Ibrahim, and they both have been on the run since 1993. Of the 11 people convicted in the case, Yakub Memon was the only one to be given the death sentence.
The case has reopened the debate about the death penalty and yesterday, Salman Khan joined his voice to that of a section that has been demanding that Yakub Memon's life be spared. In a series of tweets, the 49-year-old actor said:
Get tiger hang him. Parade him not his brotherSalman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) July 25, 2015
Phasisi k phande pe chardne walla hai . Koi statement. Koi address. Kuch toh bolo k tum teh. Wah bhai ho toh aisa. Matlab. Ya khoob menan.Salman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) July 25, 2015
The actor also said killing Yakub would be killing humanity.
1 innocent man killed is killing the humanitySalman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) July 25, 2015
In 2007, Yakub Memon was found guilty of plotting and executing the serial blasts, distributing arms and ammunition to other accused and of funding terror activities. Memon, who has spent over two decades in jail after his arrest from Kathmandu in 1994, has repeatedly insisted that he was unaware of the conspiracy.
The actor's tweets let loose a storm of protests, with his father, noted screenwriter Salim Khan, being among them. "He (Salman) should not say anything about these kind of serious topics without any knowledge. He should not have made such a comment. Salman is ignorant of the issue and people should not take him seriously," Salim Khan said.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya tweeted, "I will raise #SalmanKhan Twit issue tomorrow in #Loksabha #Parliament-Salman Khan ne Desh ki Mafi magni chahiye."
"It is important to teach lesson to anti nationals," said Yoga guru Ramdev. "People are there who support anti national activities in the name of humanitarian ground and they should also be punished."
As the protests grew and even posters of the actor's latest movies were burnt at some spots, the Mumbai Police strengthened security outside his residence.
Yesterday, his wife Rahim Memon told NDTV that Memon was innocent and that's why he had "surrendered".
Memon, whose mercy petition is pending with the Maharashtra Governor, has also filed a petition in Supreme Court asking for a stay on the death warrant. The plea will be heard on Monday - three days before the date of his execution.
Counter-terror officer B Raman, who led the operation to bring Memon back to India from Pakistan in 1994, wrote several years ago that he did not believe the man deserved to die.