VICTIMS of the 1993 serial bomb blasts welcomed Friday’s verdict by the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) court to convict six of the major conspirators and acquit one of them. Dadar resident Tushar Deshmukh said he is now awaiting maximum punishment for the convicts. “Now that the court has reached its decision, the convicts should be hanged. Life imprisonment will only give them benefits in jail,” he said.
Deshmukh, who was only 13 years old when his mother Priti Deshmukh was killed when a bomb exploded in a taxi, said that he will never forget the sight of his mother’s body being returned to the family in pieces. In the years since her death, he has fulfilled his mother’s wish. Now 37, he owns a restaurant named after his mother near the Portuguese Church in Dadar. For Alok Churiwala, the blasts marked the midway point in his life so far. For the former Vice Chairperson of the Bombay Stock Exchange Brokers’ Association, the verdict is significant for its “inordinate delay”.
“Twenty four years is a very very long time,” said 48-year-old Churiwala. At age 24, Churiwala was in the BSE Building in Fort when it was struck by explosives in 1993. “If you ask is there there a sense of closure, I don’t think so,” he added.
Churiwala, now the Managing Director of Churiwala Securities Pvt. Ltd, is also dismayed that Dawood Ibrahim, the main perpetrator of the blasts, continues to be at large and untouched and that Mumbai remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks. “What started in 1993 did not end in 1993. It got worse. It was a series, the final one being 26/11,” he added. Former stockbroker Kirti Ajmera said that his willingness to fight the government for compensation to be awarded to blast victims is drawing to an end. When the bombs went off at BSE, Ajmera’s body was pierced by glass and he continues to live in intense pain as more than 40 surgeries later, 200 shards are still lodged in his body. It forced him to cut back drastically on his work.
“The court should award death sentence to the convicts. After so many years, giving them life imprisonment would not serve any justice,” he said.
Now 59 years old, Ajmera said he sees no hope of receiving compensation from the government. “I am tired now. The pain has ruined my career and the lives of my wife and children. I am going to petition the government for compensation for one more year and then give up,” he said.