The special TADA court yesterday awarded death to two and life term to gangster Abu Salem and one other in the 1993 serial blasts case, which killed 257 and grievously injured 713. On June 16, special court judge G A Sanap had convicted Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan alias Hamza Abdul Rashid Khan, Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Tahir Mohd Merchant alias Tahir Taklya, and Karimullah Khan alias Karimullah Hussain Habib Shaikh.
Blast at Zaveri Bazaar on March 12, 1993. File pic
All the accused were convicted under relevant sections of the TADA Act read with the IPC, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The court convicted Riyaz Siddiqui only under the TADA Act and discharged him from the conspiracy charge, and it acquitted Abdul Kayuum Karim Shaikh, saying there was no evidence found against him. On June 28, Dossa had died in JJ Hospital, where he was admitted following high fever and hypertension.
Judge Sanap started pronouncing the judgment at 12.40 pm; he started with Karimullah and Salem, who were sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment, Siddiqui was sentenced to 10 years in jail and the other two — Feroze and Tahir — were awarded death sentences, to be confirmed by the SC.
After the judgment was pronounced, all convicts appeared to be tense. The court allowed them to meet their family members inside the courtroom for a while. Most of the family members told media persons that they don't know what to say as the sentence had shocked them. They also said they would appeal against the order.
The same TADA court had earlier conducted the trial from 1995 to 2006, during which judge Pramod Kode had convicted 100 and acquitted 23.
It had awarded 12 death sentences and 20 life sentences. On March 21, 2013, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence of convict Yakub Memon and his brother Tiger, and commuted death sentence of 10 others to life term. Life imprisonment of 16 convicts was also upheld, the same of two others was reduced, while the sentence of six others was enhanced to life term. Yakub was hanged in July 2015.
Actor Sanjay Dutt was only convicted under sections of the Arms Act, which was upheld, and his sentence was reduced to five years in jail.
In the first trial, the prosecution had examined 686 witnesses, out which 400-odd were called again for deposition in this trial, with the defence cross-examining them. CBI counsel Deepak Salvi added 64 witnesses and examined them. The defence had called another 45 to the box. Around 40 witnesses out of the 750 turned hostile.
As told to Suraj Ojha
On March 12, 1993, the city of Bombay witnessed unprecedented terror acts, sending shockwaves throughout the world. In a span of about two hours - between 13.30 to 15.40 hours, 12 explosions took place one after the other at the Bombay Stock Exchange, Katha Bazaar, Lucky petrol pump near Sena Bhavan, opposite the passport office near Century Bazaar, Fishermen's Colony at Mahim Causeway, the basement of the Air India building, Zaveri Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, Plaza Theatre, Centaur Hotel (Juhu), Sahar airport (bay 54) and Centaur Hotel (airport). There are 33 absconding accused in the case, including Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon.
'I was working as a sub-broker at the BSE when the blast took place. It was difficult to fathom what had happened — I was lying in a pool of blood, darkness all around me; seven glass pieces had entered my skull. A taxi driver took me to Bombay Hospital, and only after the doctor gave me medication did I start to feel something, pain. It's been 24 hours since and I still can't walk in the afternoon sun. I have also been told not to pour water over my head. All the accused in the case deserved death, but some have gotten away with life term and a few years in jail'.
'On the fateful day, I was at Union Bank. I was grievously injured in the blast with several glass pieces piercing all over my body. I have had more than 40 operations since, but I am yet to recover completely. I couldn't do the same job because of this; now, I am into the real estate sector to earn for my family. Life imprisonment is not a fair punishment for the perpetrators'.
Raksha, wife of Kirti Ajmera
'The blasts and its aftermath brought a hail of problems on our family; our children lost their childhood. Many politicians met us, promising to help us and ask the court to give the accused the strictest punishment, but that isn't what's happened'.
From the convicts' side
Nadeem Kishori, a relative of Tahir Merchant who was awarded death
'We have faith in the judiciary; we are waiting for the detailed judgment copy, after which we will discuss it with our advocate, and later, appeal in the Supreme Court'
Karimullah Khan's son
'I have been coming to this court alone for three years now as my mother is not keeping well. My father is not in the right state of mind; he is depressed. He told me that he and others had a lot of hope from this court, but it failed them. He has told me to be strong'
Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan
'Whatever I have not done, I have not done'
Rs 8.88 lakh
Approximate fine slapped on Karimullah Khan
Rs 4.75 lakh
Approximate fine slapped on Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan
Rs 4.85 lakh
Approximate fine slapped on Tahir Merchant