1993 Mumbai blasts case: TADA Court to pronounce judgment on Abu Salem and six others today

A special TADA court is likely to pronounce its judgment on Friday in the second leg of the trial in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, The Hindu has reported.

The trial is against seven people, the most well-known of which is Abu Salem. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005 and is currently lodged in the Taloja Jail in Mumbai. Along with being named in the Mumbai blasts case, he is also accused in a number of other murder and extortion cases. The other accused are Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Sheikh, Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya, Abdul Qayyum, Abdul Rashid Khan and Riyaz Siddiqui, according to News18.

The trial was split into two parts as these seven accused were deported or arrested when the first leg was almost completed. Judge PD Kode then made this trial a separate affair as proceedings against them would have delayed the overall verdict.

File image of Abu Salem. Reuters

File image of Abu Salem. Reuters

The first leg of the trial concluded in 2007. The TADA court convicted 100 accused and acquitted 23. Twenty people were awarded life sentences, while 12 were sentenced to death. One of the notable convictions in the case was that of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was sentenced to six years in prison for illegal possession of arms. He was however acquitted of all terror charges.

The other convicted person who got media attention was Yakub Memon who was the brother of alleged mastermind of the blasts, Tiger Memon. Yakub was hanged to death on 30 July, 2015, after several pleas by him seeking clemency were rejected.

On 12 March, 1993, Mumbai was rocked by 13 explosions in different parts of the city which caused 257 fatalities and injured over 700, according to News18. Some news reports put the death toll at over 300 and the injured numbers at 1,400. It was the largest coordinated terror attack to take place in India in terms of number of casualties. It was also the first terror attack on Indian soil in which RDX was used as the explosive material. The attacks took place at the Bombay Stock Exchange building, the Fisherman's Colony in Mahim causeway, Zaveri Bazaar, Plaza Cinema, Century Bazaar, Katha Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, the Air India Building, Hotel Juhu Centaur, Worli and the Passport Office. In addition, grenades were lobbed at Sahar Airport.

The Hindu report said that during the trial, the prosecution had alleged that the attacks were planned by members of a crime syndicate led by international terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. The attacks were "revenge" for the atrocities committed on the Muslims between December 1992 to January 1993 as riots had gripped the city, after the demolition of Babri mosque in Ayodhya by frenzied Hindu mobs, reported Hindustan Times.

Ibrahim planned the attack with Tiger Memon, one of his most trusted associates. The bombings were financed by expatriate Indian smugglers based out of the UAE. Involvement of the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence too was suspected by Indian authorities. Several terrorists received their arms, ammunition and explosives training in Pakistan. Nearly all of them were recruited from Dubai or went to Pakistan via Dubai.

The attacks were originally scheduled to take place in April during the Shiv Jayanti celebrations but had to be preponed after Gul Noor Mohammad Sheikh alias Gullu was detained at the Nav Pada police station on 9 March, 1993, as per the News18 report. Sheikh confessed to being trained in Pakistan and told the police about the planned attacks. However the police did not take him seriously. This arrest forced Tiger Memon to bring forward the date of the blasts.

The case was cracked by the Mumbai police within 48 hours as they found a vehicle loaded with explosives, which did not blow up. This vehicle was owned by Rubina Memon, which led the police to investigating the Memons and subsequently unraveling the case. It also catapulted the then Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rakesh Maria, to national fame.

Once the case went to trial, it relied heavily on the testimony of Jan Khan Usman Khan, alias Badshah Khan, per the Hindustan Times. According to Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Khan's “disclosures were important in furthering the investigation and proving the conspiracy.” Khan now lives under another name with police protection somewhere in the western suburbs of Mumbai, apparently involved in the real estate business.

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2017 11:44 AM

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