It had earned the tag of being the longest ever trial in India-13 years-and had ended last year with the conviction of 100 accused and 10 death penalties. This month,exactly 16 years after a team of 160 policemen from Raigad in Alibaug to Mahim in Mumbai helped solve the mystery of how a homegrown underworld gang went on to carry out serial blasts that rocked the financial capital,the state government will be finally recognising the valour of these men and women by handing out the cash rewards for cracking the March 12,1993,Bombay blasts case.
The government has decided to give away the rewards in a few days. It has approved a corpus of over Rs 1.43 crore and the reward amount ranges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1,500.
As many as 13 blasts had rocked the city. State officials said the rewards were scheduled to be presented after the convictions. Once the final verdict in the case was announced last year,the government had decided to allocate funds and give away the prize money, a senior Home Department official said.
Many of these police personnel have now retired,died,promoted or are out of service. Officials admit that it would have been great had the rewards been given within months of the attack.
Dinesh Kadam,who was a PSI in Worli then,still remembers the day on which he tracked down an explosive-laden vehicle of Rubina Memon,which later helped the police establish Tiger Memons links in the case. It was one of the crucial leads.
I was patrolling on my bike when I saw the vehicle with its back glass broken. After asking a few people at the spot,I was told that a few suspicious men had left the car in a hurry. On closer look,I found the explosives. This was the vehicle that the terrorists had planned to blow the BMC headquarters with, he said.
Suresh Walishetty,the then assistant police commissioner and also the chief investigator in the case,has now retired and is a senior vice-president of India Bulls. He said rewards are always charming,but it loses the charm when you dont get it at the proper time. The rule says you should be rewarded as soon as the case is resolved. Each and every officer got immersed in this case. We didnt think of anything but to find the accused and lead the case to its logical conclusion, he said.
Walishetty had found the scooter that exploded in Pydhonie Katha Bazar and this had led to the arrest of actor Sanjay Dutt.
Among the list of officials is senior inspector Iqbal Sheikh,who along with a team of officials recovered the largest seizure ever of RDX: 1500 kg in a dry fish godown in Mumbra Mobin Nagar. Sheikh has received the highest amount of reward Rs 30,000 for his role in the investigation.
Former sub inspector (ATS) Sunil Deshmukh,who is presently senior inspector of Matunga police,was also a part of the team assisting Sheikh. They had tracked down the person in whose name the godown was leased. It is different when you get the recognition immediately,it makes one happier, he says.
Deshmukh has received three promotions and several other awards after the case. However,he is looking forward to this recognition. The case was different. We had known all the accused as we were in touch with them at one point or the other in other cases. We were shocked that we couldnt track them prior to the blasts. They had maintained so much secrecy, he said.
Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria said he was happy that the rewards are finally being given. We should take a lesson from this and make some policy legislation about rewards to the probe team.