Why did CM Fadnavis provide security for Memon’s burial: Aaditya Thackeray amidst row over grave

‘Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab were buried at unknown locations by the Congress govt, but the BJP govt handed over Yakub Memon’s body to his family,’ Maharashtra Congress spokesman Atul Londhe said

Why did CM Fadnavis provide security for Memon’s burial: Aaditya Thackeray amidst row over grave

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

The alleged ‘beautification’ of the grave of Yakub Memon, convicted and executed for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, was carried out by one of his close associates, a source at the Bada Qabrastan cemetery in south Mumbai has revealed.

He said that Memon’s family members had no role to play in it.

A controversy had erupted on Thursday over the alleged 'beautification' of Memon’s grave which had allegedly been 'revamped', complete with a marble boundary and LED lighting.

"Yakub Memon’s grave is adjacent to that of his father Abdul Razak. It's a common practice in the community to allocate a place for graves in the cemetery to members of a family together. It's part of an unwritten ritual. Therefore, Yakub's place was already allotted to his family. In the recent past, a close associate of his sought legal permission and raised the 'ota’ (boundary) of the grave with marbles," the source said.

“The big lights are generally installed during ‘Shab-e-Barat’ (when Muslims offer prayers to the loved ones who are buried in a cemetery),” he added.

He explained that any family can unofficially take their place in the cemetery and give it to the maintenance staff within the cemetery. The families offer a token of love to the staff as they maintain the graveyard and clean the graves of their loved ones.

He added that a dispute had erupted due to a misunderstanding created by the management of the cemetery. “Space adjacent to that belonging to the Memons was allotted by them to someone else. Since no one can buy or sell any place in the cemetery, the disappointed people approached the BJP just to raise a ruckus,” he added.

The Bada Qabrastan, incidentally, also has a huge grave of Ibrahim Kaskar, underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s father.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced an inquiry into the whole row, saying that a committee will be formed to probe the matter soon.

After the uproar on Thursday, the police had removed the decorative LED lighting around Yakub Menon’s grave, and the area DCP started a probe into the alleged 'facelift' given to the grave. The police will seek further information from the Waqf Board, BMC and Charity Commissioner.

A BMC team has already visited the site.

Some sources told reporters that the alleged ‘beautification’ was done on March 18, when the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government was in power. This, incidentally, was the date when 'Shab-e-Barat' was observed this year.

But even as the BJP tried to draw the former Maharashtra CM into the controversy, his son Aaditya Thackeray asked the BJP why Devendra Fadnavis, who was Maharashtra CM when Memon was executed and buried, had provided high security for the entire process.

“Why was Yakub Memon not dumped at sea like Osama Bin Laden? Whose government was it then? Allegations are false. When he was buried, high security was provided, why was such respect given? Will any action be taken on this?” he was quoted as saying by media reports.

Maharashtra Congress spokesman Atul Londhe was quoted as saying: “Why did the BJP government hand over the body of terrorist Yakub Memon to his family? The BJP is trying to use the issue of his grave to further its political interest.”

“The BJP is working to spoil the religious environment by raising the issue of Memon's grave in the run-up to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections. But in 2015, it was the BJP government that had handed over the body of terrorist Yakub Memon to his family,” Londhe said.

"After the Congress-led governments hanged terrorist Afzal Guru and 26/11 terror attacks convict Ajmal Kasab, they were buried at unknown locations. The Congress had taken precautions so that the terrorists are not exalted in the society,” he added.

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