1993 Mumbai serial blasts: Abu Salem, five others convicted
The others who were convicted include Mustafa Dossa, Firoz Khan, Karimullah Shaikh, Tahir Merchant and Riyaz Siddiqui.
Six people, including Mustafa Dossa and gangster Abu Salem, were convicted on Friday of conspiring and carrying out a string of bomb blasts that ripped through the heart of Mumbai in 1993 and killed 257 people in what was India’s worst terrorist attack.
The Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) (TADA) Act court in Mumbai also convicted Firoz Khan, Karimullah Shaikh, Tahir Merchant and Riyaz Siddiqui. Abdul Qayyum Shaikh – who was accused of accompanying Salem to deliver arms – was let off.
However, all the seven accused were acquitted of the charge of waging war against the nation.
Dossa was convicted on charges of conspiracy and murder as well as for offences under the TADA act, the arms act and the explosives act. Dossa allegedly planned the landing of explosives, including Research Department Explosive or RDX, in India and sent some men to Pakistan to acquire arms training to execute the blasts.
Salem was held as one of the main conspirators and found guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.
He also delivered AK 56 rifles, 250 rounds and some hand grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was an accused in the case for illegally possessing weapons, at his residence on January 16, 1993. Two days later, Salem and two others went to Dutt’s house and got back two rifles and some rounds.
Earlier, the court dropped certain charges against Salem in 2013 after the investigating agency – the Central Bureau of Investigation – moved a plea, saying those charges were against the extradition treaty between India and Portugal.
The blasts were master-minded by gangster Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and carried out by his henchmen, absconder Tiger Memon and others to avenge the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition and foment communal tensions.
The trial for the seven accused was separated from the main case because many of them surrendered when the first trial was coming to a close. In the first leg of the trial that concluded in 2007, the TADA court convicted 100 people and acquitted 23.
In 2013, the Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence of Yakub Memon, the brother of Tiger Memon and one of the prime suspects in the bombings.The only well-educated member of the Memon family was found guilty of criminal conspiracy, arranging money for buying vehicles used by the bombers and organising air tickets to Dubai for some of them.
The prosecution said that the object of the crime was to commit terrorist acts with an intent to overawe the government of India, to strike terror into the people, alienate a section of the people and to harm the communal harmony.
It said the conspirators smuggled fire-arms, ammunitions, detonators, hand grenades and highly explosive substances such as RDX into India and stored it.
According to the prosecution, Dossa, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel organised training camps in Pakistan and in India to impart weapons and arms training and handling of explosives. They also sent men from India to Pakistan through Dubai to train them to handle arms.
The prosecution said the conspirators held 15 meetings before the execution of the blasts.
On March 12, 1993, a series of 12 blasts in quick succession rocked Mumbai, killing 257 people and injuring 713 others. Property worth about Rs 27 crore was destroyed. The blasts were the first-ever terrorist attack in the world in which RDX was used on such a large-scale after the World War 2.
The blasts hit the Bombay Stock Exchange, Kalbadevi, Shiv Sena Bhavan, Air India building at Nariman Point, Fishermen’s Colony in Mahim, Worli Century Bazar, Zaveri Bazar, Hotel Sea Rock in Bandra, among other places.