The trial of extradited gangster Abu Salem and his driver Riyaz Siddique, in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case, commenced in a designated TADA court on Tuesday, with the first witness, a middle-aged woman, baring alleged links of Siddique with Noora Ibrahim, brother of underworld don and prime conspirator Dawood Ibrahim.
Salem, who sat next to Siddique and co-accused Abdul Qayoum, is being tried for charges of conspiracy and transporting and distributing of arms and ammunition to other co-accused, including actor Sanjay Dutt, who have already been convicted by the TADA court.
The witness, whose name has been withheld by the court, identified Siddique in court and informed Special Judge P.D. Kode that he had links with Noora. She said Siddiqui, driver of Salem, had in the second week of January 1993, asked her if she would want to accompany him to Ajmer — to which she agreed.
They then picked up Naseem, another youngster from Mahim, she told the court. But instead of going to Ajmer they stopped at Bharuch in Gujarat, she said.
Here Siddique got down and entered a hotel called Hotel Maharaja. He came out of the hotel in 15 minutes and told the witness to sit in another car, a Maruti 1000, and, instead of going to Ajmer, they drove back to Mumbai, the witness said.
The witness first disclosed the incident to police in January 2006.
According to the prosecution, Salem had used the first car to transport arms from Baruch to Mumbai.
Siddique was arrested in 2006, soon after Salem’s extradition from Portugal. It was in Salem’s confession that Siddique’s name was mentioned for the first time.
The trial is likely to continue on Wednesday when the second witness, an immigration officer, will depose.