“ZILLAT KI maut se bach gaye” (He was saved from a dishonorable death) is what several family members and relatives said after they learnt that Mustafa Dossa, a convict in the 1993 serial blasts case, had passed away at the J J hospital on Wednesday afternoon. It was a reference to his conviction on charges of conspiracy, murder and sections of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) which attract a maximum penalty of death.
Another convict in the 1993 blasts, Yakub Memon, was hanged at Yerwada prison two years back. Many among those gathered at the Dossas’ Agripada residence believe that death through a heart attack was a more respectable way to die.
Shahnawaz (39), the eldest son of Dossa, said, “Yesterday, when we met my dad in court, he was extremely unwell and had been brought in an ambulance. He could hardly stand.” He said his father, however, refused to go to hospital and said instead, ‘mujhe marna hain’ (I want to die). “That is how traumatized he was by the entire proceedings,” his son said.
A relative said, “The last thing he told us was dua karna faisla mere hak me ho (pray that the order comes in my favour). Dukh to hota hain par zillat ki maut se bach gaye (we do feel sad but he was saved from a dishonourable death).”
Another relative, his son’s brother-in-law who also met Dossa on Tuesday, said, “Even though he knew that he could appeal against his conviction in the Supreme Court, you have to understand the man was around 68. Ever since the judgment came out finding him guilty, his spirit was broken. He no longer had the energy to move from one court to the other. Maybe this was a way for his problems to end in an honorable manner.”
Many of those gathered also felt a sense of anger against jail officials and the police. “No one bothered to inform us that he was admitted to the hospital. Since yesterday he seemed unwell, the entire family had gone to meet him at the court for hearing. There we were told that he had been admitted to the J J hospital following which we rushed there,” said the relative.
A relative who had gone to the hospital along with the family said that at the J J hospital, the police security did not allow them to see Dossa. “We told them now why are you stopping us. Our man is gone. There was a fair bit of chaos. However, soon things were under control after the family members were allowed to see Dossa. We were informed by the zonal deputy commissioner that following the post mortem,the body will be handed over to us by around 8.30pm,” the relative said.
Meanwhile, around 2.30pm on Wednesday, outside Aqdas Mahal building at Agripada, some distance from Maratha Mandir cinema hall, that according to locals is owned by Dossa, preparations were afoot to perform the ghusl (purification ritual) after the body is brought there in the night. Dossa’s family members occupy the third floor of the building. While his elder son Shahnawaz resides here, his two younger sons Shebaaz and Avez reside in Dubai and will be taking a 3.15am flight from Dubai on Thursday and reach the city in the early hours. While his two daughters are also based in Mumbai, his wife keeps shuttling between Dubai and Mumbai.
“Once the two sons come to the city, we will pray the fajr (morning) namaaz after which the funeral will take place. It will most likely take place at the Bada kabrastan where his father is also buried. However, his brother Haroon will take the final call,” a relative added. Apart from presence of relatives, there was also police presence in the area and the lane leading up to Aqdas Mahal building was barricaded with no one allowed to take any vehicles inside.
An officer from Agridpada police on bandobast duty said, “We just want to ensure no untoward incident takes place. We have been here since the past few hours.” The police also called for a towing van that picked up bikes that were parked in the lane. A senior officer said that there will be police presence tomorrow during the burial to ensure things pass off without any problem.