The special TADA court on Tuesday convicted Sayyed Abdul Rehman Shaikh, a close lieutenant of Tiger Memon, Manoj Bhanavarilal Gupta, and Mohammad Kasam Lajpuria alias Mechanic Chacha, who played a key role in the Dighi landing in the Mumbai serial blasts case. The court also acquitted two others Shakeel Shahabuddin Shaikh and Devdas Keshav Ghule on benefit of doubt and for lack of evidence.
Judge Pramod Kode convicted Lajpuria (62) for the charges of facilitating the landing of arms and ammunition at Dighi in Raigad on February 1993. Lajpuria, who has been in custody since 1999, stepped into the dock with the help of a walking stick as he suffers from various ailments. The court held Lajpuria guilty for the charges of arranging a meeting of Tiger Memon with custom officials at Hotel Persian Darbar in Panvel and transportation of the arms and ammunition from Dighi into the city. Judge Kode also held Lajpuria guilty of negotiating with police officials when the police on their way to the city intercepted the vehicles at check nakas. He was acquitted of charges of conspiracy.
Lajpuria was convicted based on his own confessional statement and those of other co-accused and on the evidence by the prosecution. Soon after he was convicted Lajpuria moved an application before the court for him to be allowed to be taken to the Lilavati hospital for medical test, which was allowed, by the court. Lajpuria a key Tiger aide was the main landing agent at Dighi. Since the blast, a resident of Milat Nagar in Jogeshwari, Lajpuria was absconding and was arrested in Nepal and brought to the country.
The court also convicted Manoj Kumar Gupta under charges participation in landing and entering into a conspiracy with co-accused in disposing of the 58 bags containing RDX in the Nagla Bunder creek, in Thane. Judge Kode also held Gupta who has converted himself into a Muslim since his arrest for charges of landing of the arms and disposing off of the arms and ammunition at Naglabunder creek in Thane. He was however, acquitted from the charge of participating in the weapons training camp at Bhorgat village in Sandhgri district, in Maharashtra.
Gupta a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim has many cases including four murder cases pending against him in different courts. A short tempered man Gupta has even assaulted convict Mohammed Ehteshyam with a blade few years back inside court premises over a petty argument.
Another close aide of Tiger Sayyed Abdul Rehman was also convicted for his participation in the landing of arms and ammunition at Shekhadi and Dighi. The court observed that he was the driver of one of the cars carrying the consignment and a close confidant of Tiger who is absconding.
The court also acquitted two others accused Shakeel Shahbhuddin Shaikh who was charged with conspiracy and receiving the consignment of RDX at the Dahisar check post and storing them into the godown of accused Noor Mohammed with an intent of committing terrorist acts. He was also charged with disposing the RDX bags in the Nagla Bunder creek with an intention of screening the accused. However, the court acquitted him for lack of evidence and gave the benefit of doubt to him. Similarly the court acquitted Devidas Ghule of the charges of conspiracy and disposing of RDX laden bags inside the Nagla Bunder creek. The court gave him the benefit of doubt as the prosecution could not prove his presence.
Ghule was the driver of the dumper of Anant Bhoir who was acquitted on Monday by the court. Ghule is now working as a driver in a private car. Soon after pronouncing the judgment Judge Kode told Ghule "Atta Nagla Bunder kade zau nako", (Don't go near Nagla bunder creek), with a smile and told him to come on the final day of the judgment.
The TADA court has till now pronounced judgments against 69 accused out of which 19 accused have been acquitted and 50 accused.