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The day stark terror gripped Mumbai

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 19:18 IST
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It all began at 1.30 pm when a deafening, frightening blast ripped through the Bombay Stock Exchange, India's leading bourse, even as trading was at its peak. In no time 84 people lay dead while 200 were screaming in pain.

It was the first of a string of gruesome attacks that rocked India's commercial capital over a space of two hours and 10 minutes on March 12, 1993, and left behind mangled heap of glass, metal and flesh.

Investigators would later put the blame for the meticulously planned attacks, which killed a total of 257 people, on Muslims linked to mob boss Dawood and the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The motive? Revenge for the December 1992 razing of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and the Hindu-Muslim violence generated in Mumbai.

Exactly 45 minutes after the stock exchange devastation, a second blast tore through Narsi Natha street killing five unsuspecting bystanders and injuring 16.

The third blast damaged the Shiv Sena Bhavan—the party that was widely accused of killing many during the Hindu-Muslim violence—at 2.30 pm and claimed four lives.

But it was the meticulously choreographed bombings at Century Bazar at Worli, the fifth in a mad wave of bombings, and at Mahim causeway and Zaveri Bazar that wrought havoc.

At Century Bazar, a staggering 113 people were killed and 227 injured.

The eighth blast at Sea Rock Hotel in Bandra saw no casualties. But another huge explosion, at Plaza cinema, killed 10 people and injured 37.

More blasts followed—at Juhu's Centaur Hotel, Sahara Airport and the Air India headquarters.

The 13 blasts spread over 130 minutes killed 257 people and injured about 700.

Investigators say that Tiger Memon, now absconding, was assigned the task of coordinating the attacks by Dawood Ibrahim and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Various meetings were held at his residence and elsewhere, according to the prosecution.

A survey of the targets was done. One of the targets selected was the BPCL Refinery at Chembur but fortunately it escaped being bombed on account of tight security at the premises.

Memon purchased new vehicles to be used as vehicle bombs in fictitious names by making payments in cash. These included an Ambassador car, Maruti vans and cars, Mahindra jeeps and Bajaj scooters.

False cavities were prepared in the vehicles to fill them with RDX, the highly lethal plastic explosive.

The RDX, smuggled into Mumbai and stored at different places, was transported to the garages of Memon at Al-Hussaini Building.

On the night of March 11, all the vehicles were brought to Al-Hussaini building and RDX mixed with iron scrap, nails and bolts was filled in the cavities.

Memon had already packed off his family members to Dubai. After giving detailed instructions of how the operations were to be executed, Memon also left for Dubai on March 12.

That afternoon the explosive-laden vehicles were driven to pre-determined targets.

One group of operatives had been told to open fire at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena corporators. The group, after planting car bombs, proceeded to the target. As they crossed Century Bazar at Worli, an explosive-laden jeep planted there exploded. The blast shattered the windscreen of their vehicle as well. In panic, they abandoned it. It was packed with arms and ammunition.

This vehicle belonged to the Memon family and was registered in the name of a female member. This gave a useful lead to investigators, helping them to eventually unravel the entire conspiracy.

From the compound of Al-Hussaini building, cardboard boxes were recovered with the inscription "Wah Nobel Industries, Wah Cantt" printed on them. Wah Nobel Industries manufacture different kinds of explosives and is situated near Wah Cantt, Islamabad.

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