Supreme Court decides the 1993 Mumbai Serial Blast Case

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Facts

On March 12, 1993, the city of Mumbai was rocked by 13 explosions in different parts of the city. It resulted in 257 fatalities and over 700 were injured. According to some news reports, the death toll was over 300 and the number of injured stood at 1,400. It is the largest coordinated terror attack to have taken place on Indian soil in terms of the number of casualties. It is also one of the most well-planned terror attacks to have been perpetrated in India apart from the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. It was also the first terror attack on Indian soil in which RDX was used as the explosive material. (Reported here) At 1:30 pm on March 12, the first car bomb went off in the basement of the Bombay Stock Exchange building. The 28-story office building and surrounding structures were thoroughly damaged. About 50 were killed in this explosion. Over the next two hour 10 minutes, till 3.40 pm, car bombs and scooter bombs went off at regular intervals at many locations in the city. They were: the Fisherman’s Colony in Mahim causeway, Zaveri Bazaar, Plaza Cinema, Century Bazaar, Katha Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, the Air India Building, Hotel Juhu Centaur, Worli and the Passport Office. Grenades were lobbed at Sahar Airport.

The Attacks were planned by Dawood Ibrahim. Dawood was assisted in this act by Tiger Memon, one of his most trusted associates. The original plan was to attack Mumbai in April during the Shiv Jayanti celebrations but was advanced after Gul Noor Mohammad Sheikh a.k.a. Gullu was detained at the Nav Pada police station on March 9, 1993. Five Customs officials and five policemen were also widely held responsible for allowing RDX into the city. Some of them received bribes and some were just lax about their duties. There were also blasts at Zaveri Bazaar and a petrol pump adjoining the Shiv Sena Bhavan. Apart from the bombs, people at fishermen colony in Mahim and at the Sahar International Airport were targeted with hand grenades. The Mumbai Police, which was originally handling the case, handed over their investigation to the CBI a month after the attacks. The CBI filed a chargesheet against 189 people, including Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, in 1994. Dutt was found in possession of an AK rifle which was part of the consignment used in the attack. Dutt, who served five years in prison, was released last year in February.

Why was Mumbai targeted?

Between December 1992 and January 1993, communal riots broke out in the country, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and subsequent construction of a make-shift temple in its place. According to the CBI’s case, the terrorist attack was planned and executed as ‘revenge’ to the riots that killed many Muslims. The agency claims the objective of the attack was to ‘strike terror in the people’ and to ‘adversely affect the harmony’ among different sections of society.

Accused and Charges

Mustafa Dossa (alias Mustafa Majnu)
Charges– Criminal conspiracy and offences under Tada to cause the blasts; attended and participated in conspiracy meetings at the residence of absconding accused Mohammed Dossa along with Dawood and Tiger Memon; sent arms and ammunition from Dubai.

Abu Salem
Charges– Criminal conspiracy to commit terror acts; sent nine AK-56 rifles and hand grenades to Mumbai in false cavities of a Maruti van from Bharuch and delivered some to the residence of actor Sanjay Dutt in January 1993; kept some arms at co-accused Zaibunisa Kazi’s house at the instance of don Anees Ibrahim. Charges against him attract death, but India agreed not to grant him death while extraditing him from Portugal.

Riyaz Siddiqui
Charges– Criminal conspiracy and offences under Tada to cause the blasts; brought in arms to Mumbai from Gujarat with Salem.

Qayyum Shaikh
ChargesCriminal conspiracy to cause the blasts; procured arms and grenades along with Anees Ibrahim and sent them to India for the blasts.

Taher Merchant
Charges– Criminal conspiracy to cause blasts; participated in meetings in Dubai and Mumbai; arranged men from Mumbai to be sent for arms training to Pakistan.

Feroz Khan

Charges– Criminal conspiracy; held meeting with Mohd. Dossa and customs officers to enable smuggling of arms; helped dump a large arms consignment into Kandalgaon creek.

Judgment by Special Court

Six accused were pronounced guilty on Friday( 16/6/2017)by a special court in the 1993 serial blasts case that claimed 257 lives in the city. Qayyum Shaikh, 64, behind bars for almost 11 years, was acquitted for lack of evidence. Special judge Govind A Sanap found “concrete evidence” against gangsters Abu Salem, 48, and Mustafa Dossa, 60, Taher Merchant, 55, Feroze Khan, 47, and Karimullah Khan, 55, and convicted them on charges of criminal conspiracy, murder and indulging in acts of terrorism that cause death during the hour-long procedure. Riyaz Siddiqui, 67, was found guilty for abetting and aiding terrorism, a charge that attracts a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Arguments by the prosecution on the quantum of sentence are likely to begin in the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court on Monday. (Reported here)

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