1993 Mumbai blasts convict Tahir Merchant dies in Pune hospital
Mohammad Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, died in Sassoon General Hospital in Pune during the early hours of Wednesday, police officials said. He was lodged in Yerwada Central Jail, Pune.
“We got the information about his death from Sassoon Hospital. That is all I can say at the moment,” said senior police inspector Mukund Mahajan of Yerawada police station. “Tahir Merchant, who was lodged in the Yerwada prison, was admitted to Sassoon Hospital after he complained of chest pain. However, he died there during treatment around 3.45 am,” Dr Bhushankumar Upadhyay, additional director general of prisons department said.
“I do not know the exact number, but his family members visited him on several occasions. He has angioplasty since a few years. I think from 2014, he began taking medicines for his heart condition. He was taken to Sassoon and we got a report of his death early morning,” said UT Pawar, superintendent of Yerwada central jail.
He was arrested on June 8, 2010, for his role in the 12 serial blasts that claimed 257 lives on March 12, 1993. The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) court in Mumbai had sentenced him to death in the case on September 7, 2017, along with Feroz Rashid Khan.
However, the Supreme Court stayed on the death sentence in December 2017. Merchant was extradited to India from Abu Dhabi and was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2010. Following his conviction, he was shifted to Yerwada Central Prison in Pune, said officials.
During his conviction, the court had observed, "Tahir knowingly, wilfully, consciously and deliberately organised and actively participated in several conspiracy meetings in order to exact revenge. Prosecution proved that his role is communal and that he is one of the initiators of the conspiracy. Merchant, with his kind of indulgence, must be held directly responsible for the blasts. Merchant worked with Tiger Memon. He actively participated in meetings held in Dubai. He made travel arrangements for the accused, financed their stay and arranged their tickets and visas. He also arranged for their training and a green channel for entry and exit to Pakistan. He committed the said acts in preparation to spread terror amongst Indians, particularly Hindus in Mumbai."
Two other convicts, Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan, were given life in prison while Riyaz Siddiqui was sent to jail for 10 years in 2017.
In 2007, the court had convicted 100 people in the case. Mustafa Dossa, another person convicted in the case in September 2017, died on June 28, 2017, in Mumbai.
While Yakub Memon, brother of another convict Tiger Memon, was sent to the gallows, actor Sanjay Dutt has served five years in prison for his involvement in the case. Besides Memon, 11 others were on death row in the case in 2007. Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused in the case, is still at large.