Tada Court verdict in 1993 serial blast case on Sep 12
Mumbai, Sep 10: Thirteen years after the serial bomb blasts rocked the metropolis, a Tada court is all set to deliver the final verdict on September 12 after one of the longest trials in Indian judicial history.
The last hurdle of extradited gangster Abu Salem's plea pending before the Apex Court was cleared as the petition was withdrawn on September 8.
Salem had challenged the separation of his trial from the other blast accused in the Apex Court.
Though the Tada Court began dictating its order on August 10, legal experts felt that the final verdict would get delayed because of the don's pending plea. However, the Tada Court had then fixed September 12 as the date to deliver its final verdict.
The Supreme Court had last week heard Salem's plea and fixed the next hearing on September 18 but Salem withdrew the petition submitting that the separation would not affect his case.
But on August 10, the same issue of the separation of Salem's trial was raised before the TADA court seeking adjournment for delivering of the order on the grounds that the don's plea was pending before the High Court. The Court had however, turned down the request made by some of the lawyers and observed that though the plea was pending in the said court, no restraint had been imposed for delivering its verdict.
Later the High Court turned down Salem's plea on the grounds that the right authority for the said application was the Apex Court.
Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA)(Prevention) Act Judge P D Kode trying the case will deliver the judgement in a court room housed at Arthur Road Jail in South-Central Mumbai.
The trial of 1993 serial blasts case began on June 30, 1995 and concluded in 2003, after the court examined 686 witnesses, two accused-turned-approvers and recorded evidence running into 14,000 pages.
A total of 123 accused, of which 86 are out on bail including Cine star Sanjay Dutt and a few members of the Memon family, who had allegedly masterminded the blast, have been directed to remain present in the court on August 10 and not to leave its jurisdiction.
A series of 13 bomb explosions had rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, in which 257 people died, about 700 were injured and property worth several crores was destroyed.
At the instance of Pakistan-based intelligence agency --ISI-- the conspiracy of the blasts was hatched after the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya and communal violence in Mumbai.
The conspiratorial meeting took place in Dubai and the plan was executed in Mumbai and various parts of the state. The meeting was attended by Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Tiger Memon and other blast accused who had actively participated in committing this offence.
The two prime accused --Dawood and Memon-- are still absconding. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had earlier issued red-corner notices against them and they have been declared as 'proclaimed offenders'.
On the days preceding the blasts, Tiger Memon allegedly bought new vehicles to transport the explosives. The explosives stored in different parts were brought in at a garage owned by him and hidden in artificial cavities made in the motors for the purpose at Memon's garage. The vehicles moved out the night before the blast. The first blast hit the Bombay Stock Exchange at 1330 hrs and killed 84 people and injured more than 200. The next blast at around 1415 hrs was at Narsi Natha Street killing five and injuring 16. The third blast destroyed the Shiv Sena Bhavan at 1430 hrs, killing four and injuring 50 people. Century Bazaar at Worli was hit fifth, killing 113 and injuring 227, while next in line was Mahim Causeway where three people died and six were injured. Zaveri Bazaar was hit next killing 17 and injuring 57. It was followed by Sea Rock Hotel at Bandra where there were no casualties. The ninth blast rocked Plaza Cinema and ten people died in the incident while 37 got injured. The tenth blast was at Juhu Centaur Hotel injuring three and the eleventh blast at 1530 was at Sahar Airport with no injuries or death. The twelvth blast was at Airport Centaur Hotel in which two died and eight people were injured while one more had rocked the Air India Building.
It was, however, learnt during investigations that the other accused persons were sent to Pakistan via Dubai to recieve training in handling arms and ammunition. The deadly RDX and arms were landed in the coastal region of Maharashtra at Raigad.
The main accused in the case, Farukh Pawle, who is in jail since 1993 was said to be responsible for the blasts at Stock Exchange, Shiv Sena Bhavan and Air India Building, while Asgar Yusuf Mukadam and Shahnawaz Qureshi reportedly blasted Plaza Cinema. Abdul Turk was allegedly responsible for the blast at Century, which resulted in maximum loss of lives whereas Mohammed Gansar was held responsible for the blast at Zaveri Bazar. Parvez Shaikh was charged for two blasts at Katha Bazar and Sea Rock Hotel while Bashir Ahmed Ghani, Zakir Hussain Firoz Malik and Salim Shaikh were held responsible for the blast at Mahim Fisherman's Colony.
Police said Imtiyaz Gawte planted a bomb at Dhanji Street but it did not go off and Mohammed Iqbal planted one at Cross Roads resulting the same. Mushtaq Tarani was said to have planted a bomb at Centaur Hotel at Juhu.
In the initial stages of investigation, Crime Branch CID which was probing the case, had also filed a charge-sheet running into 10,000 pages. The probe was later handed over to CBI and on November 19, 1993, after the arrest of the accused person, CBI recorded the confessional statements of all the blast accused.
The trial began on June 30, 1995 and Judge J N Patel, trying the case was elevated to the High Court in 1996, while Judge P D Kode took over and will now dictate the order.
At the time of the trial, all the accused retracted their confessions except the two accused-turned-approvers who stuck to their statements and delivered evidence against the accused.
Besides, 37 accused including extradited gangster Abu Salem and Yakub Memon are in custody. Also, 23 accused in the case had been discharged, including Samajwadi Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Abu Asim Azmi by the TADA court.
Some of the accused died during the trial of the case, while two passed away in police custody, 10 were killed in gang wars and one was gunned down in a police encounter.
The court also examined a defence witness, a retired hand-writing expert, who reportedly delivered evidence about the hand-writing of Yakub Memon, which was later produced in the court as a vital piece of evidence.