1993 Mumbai blasts: Verdict against Abu Salem, 6 other accused likely soon
The Mumbai blasts left 257 people dead, 713 seriously injured and destroyed properties worth Rs 27 crore. The trial of seven accused were separated from the main case as they were arrested at the time of conclusion of the main trial.india Updated: Jun 16, 2017 10:54 IST
A designated court of the Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act will pronounce its verdict against seven people accused of perpetrating the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts on Friday.
A series of 12 blasts rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, killing 257 people and injuring 713 others. Check the affected spots here.
The accused are Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Firoz Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Karimullah Shaikh, Mohammad Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya and Abdul Qayyum. Special public prosecutor Deepak Salvi concluded the arguments in July 2016.
The case is being heard by judge GA Sanap.
According to the prosecution, Mustafa Dossa and his brother, Mohammad, organised key meetings to discuss the blasts. Mustafa is accused of sending weapons from Dubai and Pakistan to the western coast of India while Mohammad is alleged to have used the network to receive the consignment.
Salem was booked for delivering the consignment of arms and ammunition at various places, including the house of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt on January 16, 1993. Two days later, Salem and two others went to Dutt’s house and retrieved two rifles and some rounds.
Siddique provided logistical support – arranging car and finance for transportation of the accused – and ammunition. He also attended many of the meetings where the conspiracy was hatched.
Tahir has been charged with helping the accused travel to Pakistan via Dubai for training in handling arms and ammunition.
Shaikh and Khan have been charged with off-loading consignments sent by Dossa.
The trial dilemma
The TADA court had separated the trials of the accused and those declared absconding with the ruling that evidence of witnesses recorded through the earlier trial can be used against all of them. The Supreme Court allowed the evidence to be considered (taken on record), on the condition that the accused be allowed to cross-examine all witnesses.
Using this privilege, Dossa asked the prosecution (i) If the evidence of witnesses recorded in the previous trial can be used against the accused who were not declared absconders but arrested later in the case, and (ii) The confessions of accused who were tried earlier can be used against the accused now facing the trial.
Dossa had earlier moved an application alleging he was never declared an absconder, but was arrested at a later stage during investigation. Dossa’s lawyer, Rizwan Merchant, argued as his trial was separated from the main case and he was not declared an absconder, the evidence recorded in previous trial cannot be used against him. The same argument was raised by all the accused, except Salem.
The key evidence against the seven accused were the confessions of the co-accused, convicts and witnesses. The accused said the confession statement of the co-accused, who were part of the first trial, cannot be used against them as they were not tried together. The court, during the conclusion of arguments, said the issues would be decided at the stage of final judgment.
Salvi said the accused and those absconding should not be allowed to take advantage of “legal loopholes to escape punishment”.
First leg of the trial
In the first leg of the trial that concluded in 2007, the TADA court convicted 100 accused and acquitted 23 others. In 2013, the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement on appeal filed by all the accused – wherein key conspirator Yakub Memon’s death sentence was confirmed and that of the others (all bomb planters) were commuted to life imprisonment.
Dutt and many others surrendered before the TADA court in May 2013, after the apex court upheld their conviction. Main accused Yakub Memon was executed on July 30, 2015, after several pleas for clemency were rejected.
Motive behind the blast
According to the prosecution, fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and other members of a crime syndicate – including Tiger Memon, Mohammed Dossa and Mustafa Dossa – hatched a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in India to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition.
The prosecution said that the object of the crime was to commit terrorist acts with the intent to overawe the Union government, spread terror among the people, alienate a section of the population, and disrupt communal harmony.