The family of Mustafa Dossa learnt of his death only through television channels — a death that was so sudden and shocking that even the judge hearing the matter and the public prosecutor were visibly shaken and distressed.
As Dossa, a convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case breathed his last in JJ Hospital merely two days after the CBI pleaded for a death penalty for him, his family learnt of his death through news flashes, according to a report in Mid-Day. Dossa's son told the newspaper that the family used to track Dossa's whereabouts through an informer placed outside the courtroom.
"As and when the messenger spotted Dossa, he would apprise the family and they would set off for the hearing," the report said. However, on Wednesday, there was no news of Dossa till 10.30 am. The worried family contacted jail authorities and learned that he was critical and was undergoing treatment. The family waited outside the hospital as they saw news flashes that the convicted smuggler had died.
Dossa is survived by two wives, three sons and two daughters.
Dossa's death was so sudden that even Judge GA Sanap of the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court expressed "shock." Public prosecutor Deepak Salvi told the court that he was not in a position to argue the case on the day and sought adjournment till Friday.
However, the distraught family, tried to seek relief even in the grief . "Dukh to hota hain par zillat ki maut se bach gaye (we do feel sad but he was saved from a dishonourable death),” a relative was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
At least the way Dossa's relatives recount snatches of conversation with the man, he appears to be thoroughly dispirited and broken. His eldest son Shahnawaz recalls his last conversation with his father. Shahnawaz says his father was visibly unwell and so weak that he could hardly stand, still he denied to go to the hospital. "Nahi... ab mujhe marna hai (no I wish to die now)," the newspaper report quoted Shahnawaz recalling his conversation with Dossa.
The long trial not only sobered an outgoing Dossa but also had a deep effect on the family. Dossa's kin, visibly distressed at the disrepute and grief Dossa's arrest brought them, had tried to shrug off their family name in 2008. "The six-member family, which lives in a palatial bungalow in Agripada, has decided to change surname from Dossa to Memon. They say they are doing so to avoid police harassment and the scowls of immigration officials that the name Dossa attracts at airport every time they go abroad," DNA reports.
Another relative says that Dossa knew that there was scope for appeal in the Supreme Court after his conviction but he was extremely disinclined to claim clemency. "You have to understand that the man was 68 years old," a relative says.
But this was not how his friends and acquaintances knew him to be.
One of the richest inmates in at the Arthur Road Prison, Dossa earned the sobriquet 'majnoo' for his lavish lifestyle, according to a report in Hindustan Times. Coming from a rich family of oil traders, Dossa's clan controlled the wholesale trade in Crawford market.
"He lived lavishly by allegedly bribing staff with the money provided by his family. His penchant for designer clothes followed him to Arthur Road. He would exercise regularly and the dumbbells he used had been brought from Dubai following a court order," the newspaper report states of his lavish lifestyle.
The newspaper further quotes an anecdote from his days in the Arthur Road prison, "Once he got into a brawl with bomb blast accused Abu Salem and stabbed his face with a sharpened spoon, only because the latter refused to offer him salaam."
Dossa was convicted under charges murder, conspiracy and sections of now repealed TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act) in the 1993 Mumbai blast case which was carried out to avenge the 1991 demolition of Babri Masjid by a Hindu mob. According to the prosecution, Dossa had smuggled firearms, ammunition, detonators, hand grenades and highly explosive substances like RDX into India for the coordinated blasts.
As many as 257 people were killed in the coordinated blasts that ripped through the city on 12 March, 1993. He was taken to be one of the "brains" behind the conspiracy. His degree of responsibility towards the commission of the crime was the highest.
"If not for him (and other absconding accused) the crime would never have taken place.. his role was more severe than that of hanged convict Yakub Memon," Salvi had told the court at one of the hearings.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Jun 29, 2017 16:47 PM | Updated Date: Jun 29, 2017 16:51 PM