Witness confirms Salem's associates involvement in '93 blasts

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Mumbai, Apr 23 (UNI) The second witness in the separate trial of Riyaz Siddiqui, an associate of extradited gangster Abu Salem and accused in the 1993 serial bomb blasts, today confirmed his involvement in the blasts.

While deposing before designated TADA judge P D Kode, the witness, a building contractor, said he, along with Siddiqui, and other person had travelled to Bharuch in Gujarat in a Maruti van in January 1993.

During his examination-in-chief by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, the witness said after spending few hours in Bharuch, they came back in a Maruti 1000 car to Mumbai.

During the journey, he noticed that Siddiqui and other occupant of the car, including Abu Salem, were discussing handing over the vehicle and some amount to a person in Bharuch and to return in another car, witness said.

He said he was not aware of the motive behind Siddiqui's and Salem's visits to Bharauch, but accompanied them as they were his friends.

According to the prosecution's case, Siddiqui and Salem had brought a consignment of arms in a Maruti 1000 care to Mumbai and distributed the same amongst other accused, including film star Sanjay Dutt.

Meanwhile, during the cross-examination by defence advocate Sudeep Pasbola and Farhana Shah, witness admitted that he was involed in two serious offences but were discharged by the court for lack of evidences.

On one occasion, there was a heated exchange of words between the defence advocates and the witness over reply to a question, to which Judge Kode asked him to behave properly.

Dossa, Salem and his two accomplices -- Siddiqui and Abdul Qaum Ansari -- were arrested after the designated court had concluded its first phase of trial, when Judge Kode convicted 100 accused, including members of the Memon family, who had masterminded the blasts and Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt.

The final verdict in the blasts case is awaited, with the court separating the trial of the four accused from the other accused, who had faced the trial for fourteen years.

The blasts that occurred on March 12, 1993 left 257 people dead and 574 injured.

Salem is accused of delivering an AK-56 rifle at the residence of Sanjay Dutt and various other weapons to other co-accused.

Siddiqui and Ansari are accused of delivering weapons at different places.

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