Sixty-five-year-old Mohammad Kasam Lajpuria alias Mechanic Chacha sentenced to 10-year imprisonment by the designated TADA court in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case has spent more than that,nearly 13 years,in jail as an undertrial. Lajpuria,who can move around only in a wheelchair,however,will have to spend nearly a year-and-a-half more behind bars owing to a legal technicality arising from a decision earlier taken by him and his lawyer.
Of the 13 years in jail,the TADA court would recognise only the eight years,six months and 28 days he spent at Arthur Road and Kolhapur prisons.
Mechanic Chacha was granted bail on May 31,2008,but spent five years after that in a Bangalore jail as an undertrial in another case.
Although he was in custody,legal papers show him as an accused on bail granted by the TADA court. He was taken to Bangalore for trial in another case,where he spent almost five years,only to be later acquitted. But as Lajpuria had opted bail to face trial in Bangalore,that period will go unaccounted for, said defence counsel Farhana Shah,who helped him complete his surrender formalities on Thursday before the designated TADA court.
Besides the 1993 blast case,Lajpuria had two cases against him. One was an attempted murder case tried before the sessions court in Bangalore,and another under TADA for smuggling arms and ammunition in Jamnagar,Gujarat. While he was acquitted in the Bangalore case,he has been granted bail in the Jamnagar case in which trial is yet to begin.
In 2007,designated TADA judge P D Kode had sentenced Lajpuria to 10 years in jail after he was found guilty of participating in conspiratorial meetings,arranging weapons training in Pakistan for others,and participating in landing and transportation of arms smuggled into the city. After spending nearly eight years and six months behind bars,he opted for bail in 2008,so that he could go to Bangalore to stand trial in the other case.
My family lives there. It was easier for me. Now I realise I should have applied for cancellation of bail here. Five years behind bars in Bangalore have gone unaccounted for. It is a gross mistake, Lajpuria said Thursday. Married twice,he has families in Mumbai and Bangalore. He has undergone several operations after his vertebrae were damaged rendering him bedridden.