The CBI may use underworld don Chhota Rajan as a witness in its probe into the 1993 Mumbai blasts in a bid to uncover the alleged role of prime suspects Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon as well as Pakistani spy agency ISI, a government source told HT.
Rajan, who split up with Dawood after the attacks that killed 257 people, was brought to New Delhi last week following his deportation from Indonesia nearly three decades after he fled India.
Though he was marginalised and kept out of the loop when the blasts’ conspiracy took place between December 1992 and April 1993, Rajan may have vital information on those involved, officials say.
“Rajan was still in the gang and may have come to know of aspects related to the planning later that can be used as a witness account against, especially, the case absconders when required,” said the government source.
The gangster’s testimony could help establish the suspected role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in arranging the landing of explosives in parts of coastal Maharashtra for the terror strike on India’s financial capital.
Dawood allegedly orchestrated the 1993 blasts, in retaliation against the destruction of the Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh the previous year and subsequent communal riots in Mumbai, with help from members of the ISI.
Rajan, once among his closest aides, was detained at Bali airport last month on the basis of an Interpol red corner notice issued in 1995, which was renewed in June this year.
His witness statement could be used in additional supplementary charge sheets as well as ongoing trials against about eight blasts accused like Abu Salem and Abdul Qayyum, said the source.
The CBI has taken Rajan into custody for allegedly acquiring an Indian passport fraudulently in 2003 from Karnataka where it will soon send a team to collect case records and question suspects.
The first charge sheet in the blasts case was filed against 189 accused on November 4, 1993 followed by 23 supplementary charge sheets. The probe was initially conducted by Mumbai police and then handed over to the CBI.
On completion of trial, a court convicted a 100 people for various offences. A dozen among them got the death penalty while 20 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The CBI has arrested 30 absconders in the case so far, including Salem who was deported from Portugal in November 2005.