“He (Yakub) had to be punished, all the masterminds should be brought back to the country and tried. I welcome today’s (Supreme Court) order,” said Dr Jaichand K Mandot (63), whose alertness not only saved hundreds of lives on March 14, 1993, but in Memon family in Mahim.
Speaking to mid-day from his clinic at Dadar (East), Dr Mandot recalled the morning of March 14, 1993, “I still remember the day clearly. It was a Sunday and I could not find enough space to park my red Maruti car as someone had parked a scooter just in front of the clinic, and I had to park the vehicle behind the building.”
Dr Jaichand K Mandot outside his clinic in Dadar. He had spotted the liquid dripping from the scooter through the glass doors. Pic/Shadab Khan
“The city had just experienced serial bomb blasts two days before that (March 12, 1993) and the roads were deserted. I had seen a middle aged man parking this scooter in front of my clinic on the afternoon of March 13, but I did not think about it at the time. I shut the clinic and left,” Mandot recalled.
“Around 10.30 am on Sunday, when I was inside my clinic, I could see from the glass door that some liquid was dripping from the luggage carrier of the scooter. Initially, I thought it was some drug melting and suspected it was brown sugar or some other narcotic. I stepped outside the clinic and decided to examine the scooter.
Yakub Memon's execution: Timeline of events since 1993 Mumbai blasts
I went closer and saw that the liquid was thick and blackish. Looking at the odometer, I realised that the scooter, which was blue, was brand new and had run less than 100 km. “I took a container, collected a small quantity of the dripping liquid, took it to the toilet of the clinic and lit it with a matchstick.
To my surprise, the flames leapt as high as four feet. Since I was curious, I decided to collect the liquid once again and I even alerted a few locals this time. We took the sample behind the building and set it alight. This time, the height of the flames was double. I suspected something was wrong and decided to inform the police,” said Dr Mandot.
The doctor alerted the Matunga police. A team arrived within minutes and the entire area was cordoned off. He heard the police saying that the scooter contained RDX. “Senior police officials, including then Commissioner of Police A S Samra, Jt CP Y C Pawar, DCP Rakesh Maria and others came to the spot and they even visited my clinic.
Teams from the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad and even the National Security Guard (NSG) arrived from Delhi and they decided to take the scooter to some other location to defuse the bomb. At the time of incident, I had five to seven patients in the clinic and I was allowed to keep my clinic open and I could even examine my patients.
“I was called to the Matunga police station the same evening for recording my statement and I cooperated with the police,” Mandot added.
Threats and fame
“Soon after the police were informed about the scooter, I started receiving threat calls on the landline number in my clinic. The caller would speak in Hindi and would say ‘Abhi tumkho rehne nahin denge idhar, uda denge” (We wont allow you to live here anymore, you will be bumped off).
This went on for 15-20 days and he was given police protection at his clinic and residence for a month. Mandot added, “Suddenly, several people, including political leaders and local residents, started visiting my clinic. They felicitated me for saving hundreds of innocent lives in the Dadar area. I had become a celebrity of sorts for the time being,” said the doctor.
“Had the scooter bomb gone off, over 200 people would have died, as the lane is very narrow and there were two country bars close to the clinic. A lot of people also used the road to go to the railway station. Luckily, there was some defect in the bomb and it did not go off. I read newspapers later, which mentioned that 12.5 kg of RDX was stored in the scooter,” said the doctor.
Mandot added, “The first RDX-laden scooter was found here in Dadar and it was a major breakthrough for the police. It helped lead the police to the Memons.” Three to four years after the blasts, Mandot was summoned by the TADA court to testify. The scooter was identified by him in the court.
Asked if he was still alert and if abandoned vehicles made him suspicious, Mandot replied in the negative and said the only reason he suspected something was amiss with the scooter then was because of the dripping liquid. The doctor also said he is happy that his alertness saved innocent lives and helped the police in nailing the accused.
“Today, even though I am retired, I make it point to visit the clinic for some time. Both my children are doctors. During those days, even my family was scared for my safety, but I was determined that I would stand by the truth and I decided to testify,” he said.
The number of people who died in the blasts
The number of lives the doctor estimates he managed to save