On March 12, 1993, Bombay was rocked by 13 explosions in different parts of the city. It resulted in 257 fatalities, and over 700 were injured. According to some news reports, the death toll was over 300 and the number of injured stood at 1,500. It is the largest coordinated terror attack to have taken place on Indian soil in terms of the number of casualties. It is also one of the most well-planned terror attacks to have been perpetrated in India apart from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It was also the first terror attack on Indian soil in which RDX was used as the explosive material. Twenty-four years later, a special TADA Court found six persons guilty for the serial blasts, including deported mafia don Abu Salem, while one accused was acquitted.
Those found guilty are: Abu Salem who was extradited from Portugal in 2005, Mustafa Dossa who was deported from the UAE, Mohammed Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Takla, Karimullah Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui and Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan, said Public Prosecutor Deepak Salve.
Another prime accused, Abdul Qayyum has been acquitted of all the major charges, Salve told mediapersons. He had accompanied Salem to the home of film star Sanjay Dutt to deliver arms and ammunition and was arrested on February 13, 2007.
Special TADA Judge G.A. Sanap has fixed the next hearing on June 19, when the Special Court will fix the date for the arguments on the quantum of sentence for the guilty, he added.
All the accused found guilty and the one who was acquitted were present before Special Judge Sanap when the verdict was read out in the open court.
Salem was charged with supplying the arms and ammunition, including the deadly RDX, which were used in the blasts.
The accused are individually or jointly held guilty of the major charges, including conspiracy, terror, supplying arms and ammunition, killing, damage to public and private properties, in the blasts carried out at 13 locations that killed 257 persons.
According to Salve, the serial blasts were carried out in revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, which were followed by the two-phased bloody communal carnage in Mumbai in December 1992 and January 1993.
The prosecution said that members of the Dawood gang along with their local henchmen Tiger Memon, the Dossa brothers and others hatched a conspiracy to carry out the terror acts in Mumbai.
The nefarious triple objectives were to “overawe” the government of India, strike terror among the people, alienate sections of the people to create communal discord among the masses, besides other intentions.
For perpetrating their heinous acts, the conspirators acquired and smuggled deadly arms and ammunition, detonators, hand grenades and nearly three tonnes of the deadly RDX (Research & Development Explosive – OR Cyclotrimethylene Trinitramine), which was used for the first time after World War II on such a scale.
Earlier, in the same case, the Special TADA Court had convicted 100 accused, including Yakub Abdul Razak Memon who was hanged on July 30, 2015.
Actor Dutt, who was let off the terrorism charges but tried and convicted under the Arms Act, served his full sentence and was released from jail in February 2016.
At the end of a marathon trial lasting over 13 years, in September 2006, 12 accused were awarded the death sentence, of which 10 were commuted to life by the Supreme Court later. Another 20 accused were given life sentence.
On the afternoon of March 12, 1993, a series of 13 blasts in quick succession went off at various locations in Mumbai city and suburbs, killing 257 people and injuring over 700 others.
The prime targeted locations included the Air India Building, Bombay Stock Exchange, Zaveri Bazar, then existing five star hotels, Hotel SeaRock and Hotel Juhu Centaur, and others leading to damage to public and private properties worth Rs 27 crore. (IANS)