1993 Mumbai serial blasts - a failed terror operation?
Despite the fact that the blasts claimed over 250 lives, was it finally a failed terror strike?
Twenty years after the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, the first of many terrorist strikes that would target Mumbai, the only topic that continues to be debated is the degree of Sanjay Dutt's guilt and whether he should be pardoned. Foot soldiers and relatives of the masterminds have been sentenced to jail terms, some stretching to the duration of their lifetimes. But despite claiming over 250 lives and injuring over 700, was it finally a failure for the perpetrators?
The biggest operation of the time by the Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence failed simply because it failed to ignite a new wave of communal riots in which the death toll might have been much higher thanks to the weapons and explosives that had been distributed prior to the serial blasts, writes Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express today.
The killing of Hindu labourers in the communally sensitive south Mumbai area of Dongri in the days leading to the blasts, the planned attack on the city's civic body where right-wing party Shiv Sena dominated and the distribution of arms and explosives among foot-soldiers still seething over the recent riots were all steps taken to take the horrific riots following the Babri Masjid demolition well beyond the borders of the city, he says.
According to Gupta, the scale of the plan was so large that the ISI was even willing to sacrifice its biggest asset in India, gangster Dawood Ibrahim:
Not only was it the ISI's first major operation in mainland India, it was also the most audacious to date. Much more ambitious than even 26/11. So ambitious and so audacious, in fact, that they risked their most important asset in India, Dawood Ibrahim, and his underworld army. They would have known that irrespective of how this ended, they would have to evacuate the whole lot, and find them safe harbour in their own country.
Ibrahim however, protested his innocence after the blasts and claimed he would present himself before an inquiry commission to prove his innocence. The inquiry commission was never formed and Ibrahim never surrendered, though Gupta describes an amusing encounter with the 'bhai' in Dubai.
Ensconced in an office in Dubai, though he officially wasn't there, Ibrahim who had called Gupta for an interview develops cold feet due to strict instructions to maintain silence and refuses to give in to demands to say anything, even issuing a veiled threat. Who says gangsters don't follow government protocol?
Read the complete Indian Express article here
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Sanjay Dutt gets second parole extension in a row. The actor who was suppose to return to jail on 19 February will now return on 21 March. Dutt had sought another extension on the grounds of his wife's ailment.
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