The serial blasts were originally meant to be nationwide and were planned to coincide with Shiv Jayanti — the birth anniversary of Maratha warrior-king Shivaji — in April.
Then Gul Noor Mohammad Khan, a member of the Tiger Memon group, panicked, decided to back out of the conspiracy and got himself arrested in an assault case.
It was at this point that the serial blasts plan was amended, the date brought forward, to March 12, and the attack turned Mumbai-centric. “After Khan revealed the original plan to his mother, she told him to stay away from the conspiracy,” says Rakesh Maria, who headed the special team that probed the 1993 blasts case and is now head of the state Anti-Terrorism Squad.
Khan, who had received training in Pakistan as part of the blasts conspiracy, had also been in charge of teaching newly indoctrinated foot soldiers to lob hand grenades. A special camp had been set up in Mahad, Raigad district, for this purpose, intended for those who had been unable to make it to the camps in Pakistan.
“Khan’s arrest alarmed the conspirators, who were worried he might reveal their entire plan to the police. So they advanced the date by a month,” Maria said.
Following the blasts, a special team was formed under Maria to probe the case. They uncovered a cache of 3.5 tonnes of RDX, 71 AK-56 rifles, 493 hand grenades, 13 9-mm pistols, 1,150 electronic detonators and three pencil timers, all of which had made its way into the country from Pakistan.
“The RDX wrapping bore the stamp of the Wah ordnance factory, 36km from Islamabad; the 9mm pistols had been manufactured at an ordnance factory near Peshawar,” says Maria.