Twenty four years after serial blasts battered and brushed India’s commercial capital Mumbai – snuffing out the lives of 257 people – a special TADA court on Friday (16 June) convicted key mastermind of the blasts Mustafa Dossa, gangster Abu Salem and four others. One accused has been let off for lack of evidence.
Twenty four years is too long time. The victims’ family and the survivors kept on waiting all these years to see the light of justice and many of them could not even survive to see the justice. And finally the time has come.
Special Judge GA Sanap pronounced all the five convicts guilty for criminal conspiracy, murder under various sections of the IPC besides offences under TADA, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Destruction of Public Property Act. The court will pronounce the quantum of punishment against the convicts on Monday (19 June).
- Mustafa Dossa: Dossa, who is in his 50s, has been charged with overseeing the sending and arrangement landing of arms, ammunitions and explosives – including 3,000 kg of RDX in India – from Dubai to India. It was according to Dossa’s instructions that the arms were distributed among the accused, the CBI said. Dossa took the “first step” in the conspiracy by sending the arms and ammunition for the blasts, the TADA court observed.Dosa reportedly participated in the conspiracy meetings at the Dubai house of his brother Mohammed Dossa in between December 1992 and January 1993 which was attended by Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and others. According to CBI, the idea of sending weapons to India for Mumbai blasts and the subsequent communal riots was discussed at this meeting. Another conspiracy meeting for the blasts was held at White House, the Dubai residence of Dawood Ibrahim. Other accused including Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan were flown in by Dossa who facilitated their pick-up, accommodation and other arrangements. He sent some youth to Pakistan to acquire arms training to execute the blasts. Dossa was arrested in 2003.
- Abu Salem: Salem, 48, is one of the conspirators of the blasts. He has been charged with transporting arms, ammunitions and explosives from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts. The arms were distributed and stored among the co-accused for blasts. According to reports, Salem had collected nine AK-56 rifles and around 100 hand grenades, some boxes of cartridges and magazines from Sansrod near Bharuch in Gujarat and transported them to Mumbai via Bhiwandi. Some of these weapons were subsequently delivered to actor Sanjay Dutt. Dutt who was found guilty of illegally possessing weapons, convicted in 2007 and completed his sentence. Salem was arrested in Lisbon, Portugal in 2002 and extradited to India in 2005 following a long extradition process.
- Mohammed Tahir Merchant: Merchant, 55, a former hawala operator in Dubai, is one of the main conspirators and executors of the blasts who actively organised funds to procure arms and ammunition. According to the CBI, he attended conspiracy meetings in Dubai and floated and propagated the objective of the conspiracy. Merchant arranged travel for some Muslim youth in Mumbai to Pakistan for arms training. After prolonged proceedings, the UAE extradited Merchant in 2010.
- Karimullah Khan: Karimullah, 55, was found smuggling the explosives into the country through Shekhadi Port in Raigad. He reportedly had attended a conspiracy meeting held in an Alibaug hotel on February 2, 1993, which was attended by Tiger Memon among others. On the day of the blasts, he escaped to Dubai and from there he went to Pakistan. In 2006, Karimullah returned to India via Nepal boarder. He was arrested in 2008.
- Abdul Qayyum: Qayyum, 64, procured arms, ammunition and explosives and sent them to India. According to the CBI, Qayyum was involved in sending the first consignment of arms to Dighi port. He has been charged with facilitating the safe transportation of the part of the consignment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan to Mumbai. Qayyum along with Salem supplied weapons to Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt. Qayyum was arrested in 2007.
- Feroze Khan: Feroze, 47, son of a retired Indian Navy officer, was found transporting the explosives to the targeted locations in Mumbai. Firoz attended the conspiracy meeting, held at the residence of Dawood Ibrahim in Dubai in February 1993 ahead of the blasts. Reports suggest that he was present in the conspiracy meeting held in a hotel in Panvel and was a party to the negotiations where the bribe amount of customs officials were settled for smooth landing of arms and ammunitions. After the 1993 blasts, Firoz fled the country to the Middle East. He returned to India in 2005 and assumed a false identity. He was arrested in 2010.
The accused who was let off: Riyaz Siddiqui was convicted under TADA for helping Abu Salem and others in transportation of arms.
How D-company executed 1993 blasts?
According to the prosecution, members of the crime syndicate run by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, along with his key aide Tiger Memon, Mohammed Dossa and Mustafa Dossa had plotted the dastardly attacks on Mumbai.
Mustafa Dossa, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel had organised training camps in Pakistan and in India to impart and undergo weapon and arms training and handling of explosives, the prosecution said.
The conspirators held 15 meetings before the execution of the blasts, the prosecution adds.
Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel are currently in their safe haven in Pakistan.
A long trail
Though the hearing began in 2007, it was delayed as three simoltenious petitions were pending with the Supreme Court, one each filed by Dossa and Salem, and another by CBI. In the first leg of the trial that concluded in 2007, the TADA court had convicted 100 accused, while 23 people were acquitted. In 2013, the Supreme Court sentenced Yakub Memon – a key conspirator of Mumbai blasts – to death. Memon was executed on July 30, 2015.
The fateful day of 12 March, 1993
Pertinent to mention that 1993 Mumbai blasts was the first-ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX (Research Department Explosive) was used on such a large-scale after the World War -II.
As many as twelve serial blasts in a span of two hours took place in Mumbai on 12 March, 1993. The blasts killed 257 people and injured 713 others. The blasts took place at Bombay Stock Exchange, Katha Bazaar, a petrol pump near Sena Bhavan, opposite Passport office near Century Bazaar, Fishermen’s colony at Mahim Causeway, at the basement of Air India Building, Zaveri Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, Plaza Theatre, Centaur Hotel of Juhu, Bay No-54 of Sahar Airport and Centaur Hotel near airport.