1993 Mumbai serial blasts: 24 years later, life term for Abu Salem, death for two

1993 Mumbai serial blasts case: The special court disposed of the application of Abu Salem seeking permission to marry.

Written by Sadaf Modak , Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Updated: September 8, 2017 8:38 am
Abu Salem, abu salem sentence, 1993 Mumbai Blasts case, 1993 mumbai blasts, Mumbai Blasts case, abu salem convicted, indian express news Abu Salem has been awarded life sentence in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. (Source: Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar.)

Twenty-four years after a series of bomb blasts ripped through Mumbai, killing 257 people and leaving 713 injured, a special court Thursday handed the death penalty to two of the accused and life imprisonment to two more, including extradited gangster Abu Salem. Of the six convicted by the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court on June 16, Taher Merchant and Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan were sentenced to death; Salem and Karimullah Khan were handed concurrent life sentences on two separate counts each; and, Riyaz Siddiqui got 10 years’ imprisonment. Mustafa Dossa died less than a fortnight after the conviction four months ago.

Siddiqui, who has already spent over 12 years in prison, will continue to remain in jail as he was convicted last week in the murder of Mumbai builder Pradeep Jain. Siddiqui faces a minimum of life imprisonment in the case. The TADA court had let off a seventh accused, Abdul Quayyum, for want of evidence. This was the second leg of the trial.

The CBI had sought death sentences for Feroz, Merchant and Karimullah while seeking life for Salem and Siddiqui.

All the seven accused were facing multiple charges, which included criminal conspiracy, waging war against the state and murder. The accused said they will be filing appeals against the order before the Supreme Court.

Abu Salem, abu salem sentence, 1993 Mumbai Blasts case, 1993 mumbai blasts, Mumbai Blasts case, abu salem convicted, indian express news Tight security police outside the special court during the proceedings for sentencing in 1993 Mumbai blast case in Mumbai on Thursday. (Source: PTI Photo)

Karimullah Khan’s son, Shazib, said the family had been prepared for the worst but did not expect a life sentence. “Other accused, whose role in the conspiracy is greater, have been given less severe punishment,” said the 22-year-old.

Read | Timeline of events from bomb explosions to Abu Salem’s life imprisonment

A relative of Taher Merchant said the family would file an appeal at the earliest. Legal representatives of Salem said the life sentence is in violation of the extradition treaty with Portugal and that they would file an appeal in the European Union.

The CBI had argued that though Salem’s role was that of one of the “main conspirators”, he should not be given the death sentence as it would be against the provisions of the Indian Extradition Act.

In the 2,164-page judgment, Special Judge G A Sanap observed that Merchant by remaining in Dubai had deprived the investigating agency of necessary assistance. In June, while convicting Merchant, the court had called him a “main conspirator” who in the initial part of the conspiracy worked with “the brain” behind the blasts, Tiger Memon.

The court further said that he had been part of several conspiratorial meetings held in Dubai and had also arranged for the entry of several co-accused to Pakistan for training in arms and ammunition.

On granting Karimullah life imprisonment while giving Feroz death, the court said that there can be no comparison in their roles. “Feroz comes from a well-educated family. His father was a petty officer in the Indian Navy. So the role of the two is not comparable. Karimullah hails from a lower strata, with no educational background… Feroz was a partner with the Dossa brothers,” the court said.

Abu Salem, abu salem sentence, 1993 Mumbai Blasts case, 1993 mumbai blasts, Mumbai Blasts case, abu salem convicted, indian express news Special public prosecutor Deepak Salvi talking to media after a Mumbai court on Thursday awarded death sentence to Tahir Merchant and Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and life imprisonment to extradited gangster Abu Salem in the 1993 serial blasts case. (Source: PTI Photo)

“Offences and offenders of terrorism need to be dealt with sternly. Further generations need to be saved from the menace of terrorism. A lenient view in such cases can weaken the fight and collect efforts to combat terrorism,” the court said.

On RDX and arms brought to Mumbai for the attack, the court observed that the offenders had knowledge of the offence.

“It is necessary to mention that RDX cannot be used as a powder to kill mosquitoes and flies and it cannot be assumed that AK 56 rifles were being distributed in schools in Bombay as toys,” the court said.

The court also observed that it is necessary to note that the conspirators and perpetrators of the crime rejoiced at the success of the crime.

Judge Sanap had in June observed that Feroz was “a prominent member” of the Dossa gang and was “actively involved” in smuggling the arms and ammunition to India. The court had also refused to accept Feroz’s defence that his was a case of mistaken identity and that he was a man named Hamza.

The special court also said that the fine amount levied on the accused was “meagre” and “inadequate” for victims. It has directed the District Legal Services Authority to recommend adequate compensation.

It has also directed the SP (CBI) to trace injured and disabled victims as well as kin of the deceased victims who are not included in the list submitted earlier by the CBI. The CBI had submitted a list naming 232 dead and 613 injured.

On Thursday, the convicts spent a long day in court, being escorted back to prison only at 11 pm after copies of the judgment were given to them.

On March 12, 1993, 12 devices exploded across Mumbai between 1.30 pm and 3.40 pm, the first at Bombay Stock Exchange followed by the rest at Katha Bazaar, Lucky Petrol Pump near Sena Bhavan in Dadar, opposite the passport office near Century Bazaar in Worli, the fishermen’s colony in Mahim, the basement of the Air India building in Nariman Point, Zaveri Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock in Bandra, Plaza Cinema in Dadar and Centaur Hotel in Juhu.

The CBI claimed that the blasts were planned and executed in retaliation for the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya in December 1992 and the subsequent communal violence in Mumbai.

No marriage for Salem

The special court disposed of the application of Abu Salem seeking permission to marry. The application was filed by a Mumbra-based woman after reports claimed that the gangster had married her on board a train while being escorted for a hearing. The court observed that the application should be disposed of since it is “infructuous”. The court also rejected Salem’s application seeking to be transferred to a prison outside Maharashtra, preferably Uttar Pradesh, on the same grounds.

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  1. B
    Sep 8, 2017 at 5:03 pm
    unless the govt. of the day come forward with a census / population, it would become to regret that at this time - every third person is a MUSLIM, and the terminology of minority b abandoned immdtly. unless an uniform code of conduct and law is implemented, certainly, population of Muslim would swell like anything across the country, there is no doubt. Population would cripple the economic stability of a country , its as true as daylight, thus, an uniform code of conduct and Law is the need of the hour. they live in this country and love enemy country much more than Mother Land and its culture. Most of the terrorists, anti-national activities r done by this community, which itself make suspicious about their integrity with this great nation. very few of them r disciplined and decent and love their Mother Land. it is their community leaders to educate them in a proper manner than igniting 'hate'.
    1. B
      Sep 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm
      life imprisonment is too less to the convict. he did a heinous crime and a criminal, therefore, either hang him till die or stone / lash him till die as per islamic law as the criminal/accused is a Muslim. instead of keeping him inside the jail, it is a liability to the govt. for his daily maintenance. or otherwise, give him only one time food either in the morning or at night that's all. only feed him half baked and rotten food 2 this convict as he took so many innocent precious lives ......... he deserve no leniency, pity, sympathy mercy at all. he himself is worst than a 'devil', he is a curse to his own religion.
      1. Nitin Deolekar
        Sep 8, 2017 at 12:58 pm
        poor Muslim Youth is attracted to ISIS, due to mistake of Ambyedkar Laws Like No Common Civil Code?? Bad Need to Reverse Dirty Laws done by Pseudo-Secular??Nehru-Ambyedkar Like No common civil code? Next 70 years apply 1-wife Law to Muslim brothers and allow 2-shadi Talak for Hindu. Also apply China Law: 1-family-1-child to Muslims who did not go Pak? Ban Burkha Teach tennis to Muslim Girls from Sania Mirza Gift them reservation in BC Quota in place of Ambyedkar caste!!
        1. P
          Sep 8, 2017 at 1:03 pm
          Well said !! Most required for the upliftment of the community.
          1. H
            Sep 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm
            Are muslims minorities in india ? Around 1 in 4 new borns in india are muslims . Hindus enjoy your country till it lasts.
        2. H
          Sep 8, 2017 at 12:33 pm
          One thing these mullahs are doing right is increasing their population . While after par ion on basis of religion and exterminated the Hindu populations in Pakand Bangla, now they are fanatic about increasing their population in India . In 70 years they have increased from 8 percent to 16 percent , below the age of 15 more than 20 percent are mullahs . States like West Bengal, Assam and Kerala are more than 30 percent mulla , Kashmir is a no go place for ordinary civilian Hindus . Hang how much one can it seems mullahs are playing their game of gazab e hind correctly . If Hindus dont understand then let them enjoy their fleeting moment of glory.
          1. Shamsul Islam
            Sep 8, 2017 at 12:31 pm
            WELL-DONE! The Muslim terrorists who killed 257 and maimed hundreds of innocent residents of Bombay in January 1993 have been punished. Many of them have been sent to gallows, awarded life sentences and so on. But what about those terrorists who butchered 575 and maimed hundreds of people of minority in December 1992 in the same city. Sadly, with regards to communal and Caste violence, India has two kinds of laws, one for minority/Dalits and other for majority/high castes. Whenever former suffer Indian State plays a game of forming COMISSIONS-COMMISSIONS. But if violence is believed to be perpetrated by minorities the punishment is instant. This latest judgment ensures punishment for January 1993 perpetrators but despite Justice BN Srikrishna Commission Report holding almost all Hindutva organizations responsible for killings of minority people in December 1992, the indicted perpetrators were not even questioned what to talk of arresting them.
            1. L
              Sep 9, 2017 at 2:47 am
              Through out the world radical Muslims are killing Muslims and others. Why Muslims do not live in peace? For eg in India( except in Kerala), they are shunned, ghettoised, no houses on rent, purchase, school admissions, jobs, etc. That is the reason perhaps strict shariat is enforced for Muslims .
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