'Yakub is responsible for several hundred deaths, he should hang'
Retired security guard Sabhajit Singh, who gave police the most vital clue about Memons' involvement in the '93 Mumbai blasts, says he's still waiting for the Rs 3000 prize money that was promised to him
At the ripe old age of 77, Sabhajit Singh, who gave the police the most vital clue about the involvement of Memons into the 1993 bomb blasts, is still waiting for the reward of Rs 3,000 that was declared by the state government soon after the case was cracked. “It is not about the money. Getting a reward from the government is a matter of pride.
It’s been 22 years since the blasts now and there is no point discussing the reward at this point,” said Singh. Speaking exclusively to mid-day, Singh, who worked as a security guard in Worli and was the first person to spot a weapons-laden white Maruti Omni which led the police to the Memons, recounted the day of the blasts and the personal ordeal that followed.
Sabhajit Singh was the first person to spot a weapons-laden white Maruti Omni which led the police to the Memons. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
For years he lived in fear, going only from home to work. He says five policemen were deployed for his security and his home began to feel like a police station. When mid-day asked Singh, who is also a 1962 war veteran, what he felt about Yakub Memon’s hanging tomorrow, Singh said, “Whatever decision has been taken by the Supreme Court and the government has been taken on the basis of evidence and I support it fully. Memon should be hanged because he is responsible for the deaths of several hundred people.”
‘Felt blast a km away’
Recalling the events of March 12, 1993, Singh, who is a resident of Vikhroli, said, “I used to work as a security guard at Siemens Limited, opposite Doordarshan Kendra in Worli, and at 4.30 pm, there was a blast at Century Bazaar, nearly a kilometre away from us.
The impact of the blast was so intense, however, that it shattered most of the windowpanes of our company’s building. The entire city was put on alert.” Around 9 pm, Singh spotted a group of three to four people zoom into the road, near Doordarshan, in a white Maruti Omni.
There was smoke coming out of car, the glass of the rear windshield was shattered and Singh and his associate saw some goods wrapped in tadpatri (tarpaulin) and covered with a metal sheet. The men in the car fled. “We panicked thinking the car contained explosives and stayed away from it. I alerted my colleagues and we decided to inform the cops.
I left the gate for a while and rushed outside looking for help. I saw a police constable patrolling on motorcycle and ran towards him. Soon, a police team accompanied me to the spot, opened the boot and found seven AK-47s and some hand grenades from the car,” Singh added. He then visited the police station after his duty hours and recorded his statement.
Till that time, Singh had no idea what would follow. After his statement was taken, he was made to do several rounds of the police station, one after the other, by various agencies on different days and times.
“This is the problem with the system and the prime reason why no one wants to help the police. I was forced to visit the police station on several occasions. Police teams also used to land up at my residence without worrying about what time it was. My family was under tremendous pressure,” he recalled.
Soon, the police realised that there could be threat to Singh’s life since he was one of the prime witnesses in the case. A team of five policemen guarded him round the clock outside his house. “They had some weird ideas pertaining to my protection. The cops protected me only while I was at home and I was on my own at work.
They had even promised to give me a free weapon, but that promise was also not kept. My house had become like a police station. At the same time, I was also scared and went nowhere except to my workplace,” said Singh. “Gradually, they reduced the security cover to three policemen and then one, until it was withdrawn completely in the year 2000.”
Sabhajit Singh joined the Railway Police Force in 1957 and then joined the Indian Army in 1961. During his stint with the Army, Singh also participated in the 1962 India-China War. He quit the army after serving for five years and in 1967, he joined Siemens as a security guard. He took voluntary retirement after 32 years of service in 1999. Singh has three sons, Rajesh, Pradip and Virendra who work for companies which sell home appliances.