1993 blasts convict Tahir Merchant who died in Pune hospital had a history of medical problems

Updated: Apr 19, 2018, 18:35 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh | Pune

Tahir Merchant had been lodged in Yerawada jail since September 2017; he had a history of medical problems

Tahir Merchant (with napkin on his head)
Tahir Merchant (with napkin on his head)

Tahir Merchant, 64, who was sentenced to death in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, died at the Sassoon general hospital in Pune in the wee hours of Wednesday. Merchant also known as Tahir Takla, was serving his capital punishment in a secluded cell of the Yerawada Central Jail, where he'd been lodged since September 2017.

UT Pawar, jail superintendent, said, "Merchant was kept in a secluded yard considering his crime. He had been awarded capital punishment, so we had not given him any duties due to his age. Around 9 pm on Tuesday, he complained of chest pain. We rushed him to the jail hospital and later decided to take him to the Sassoon general hospital. He was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit. Around 3.45 am, the doctor declared him dead."

History of problems
He added, "He had a history of medical problems. In 2014, he had undergone two angioplasties. He used to take his medicines on time. His wife and relatives had met him recently. We informed the Mumbai police about his death and they passed on the news to his relatives."

Merchant's wife Anjum, son Mohammed and his younger brother rushed to Pune after hearing about his death. Around 7 pm, Merchant's brother went to a nearby mosque to offer prayers. Around 7.45 pm, his wife went to the mortuary to catch a last glimpse of Merchant and began weeping. Merchant's younger brother told mid-day, "We are in deep shock and cannot speak at the moment."

Viscera preserved
From 10 am to the evening, the tahsildar carried out an inquest panchnama. This was followed by the post mortem. His viscera has been preserved and 10 per cent of his his liver, spleen, kidney, brain, heart, lungs have been extracted as samples for expert opinion. Recounting his criminal past, the police said, "Merchant was extradited to India from Abu Dhabi and arrested by the CBI in 2010. It was alleged that Merchant had arranged the finances for the blasts, and was also linked to conspirators Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim."

"In 2007, a special TADA court had convicted 100 accused, including actor Sanjay Dutt, in connection with the blasts. In September 2017, a special court had awarded a death sentence to Merchant and Firoz Khan and life imprisonment to prime accused Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. The court had held that Merchant was amongst the main conspirators," said the police.

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