Srinagar: A Congress legislator in Kashmir on Thursday claimed to have met Tiger Memon several times in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and said the fugitive don had acknowledged carrying out the 1993 blasts to avenge the Mumbai riots a few months earlier.
Usman Majeed, militant turned counter-insurgent turned MLA who represents Bandipore in the Assembly, recalled meeting Tiger two or three times in 1993 and 1994.
"He (Tiger) was a close friend of Hilal Beig and would visit our office in PoK as a guest. So I got to meet him a few times," Majeed told The Telegraph.
Beig was the chief commander of the militant group Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen, with which Majeed was associated those days before switching sides and joining hands with counter-insurgent Kuka Parray.
"Tiger Memon was staying in Karachi after the Mumbai blasts but would visit our office in PoK.... We would make arrangements for his food and lodging whenever he came," Majeed said.
Majeed claimed he was in Kashmir when the March 1993 blasts took place but left for Pakistan around a month later, via Bangladesh. "I met him (Tiger) for the first time perhaps in November 1993," he said.
During one of their conversations, Majeed said, he had asked Tiger why he had carried out the blasts.
"He replied that after the communal riots in 1992, some (Muslim) women came to him weeping, carrying a tray of bangles, and asked him to wear them (for sitting idle after the riots)," Majeed said.
"He said he got emotional and carried out those blasts to take revenge."
Majeed said Tiger had told him the Pakistani external intelligence agency, ISI, helped him carry out the serial blasts that killed 257 people.
The MLA said he had never met Yakub Memon but claimed that Tiger was extremely disturbed when his brother "surrendered" to the Indian agencies.
"I remember he fled to Dubai, fearing he would be targeted by the Pakistani agencies," he said. "They (the ISI) later brought him back from Dubai after negotiations."
Majeed, who returned to India in early 1995, said he had met Tiger in 1994 as well.
Majeed later joined mainstream politics, won as an Independent during the 2002 state elections and became a minister in the then Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government.
Kashmir was largely quiet on Thursday after Yakub's hanging but another MLA, Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, was detained when he organised a mourning procession at Srinagar's Lal Chowk to protest the hanging. He was later released.