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Security drill ahead of tomorrow's verdict in 1993 blasts case

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Sep 11 (UNI) Ahead of the verdict tomorrow in the 1993 serial bomb blasts casem a security drill was held today at the designated TADA court in the city's high security Arthur Road Jail.

Although the order in one of the longest trial in Indian judiciary may not be fully pronounced tomorrow, the court May begin the process of dictating it, sources in the TADA court headed by Mr P D Kode said.

With extradited gangster Abu Salem having withdrawn on Friday his petition from the Supreme Court, challenging his separate trial in the case, the last hurdle in the way of the order has been cleared.

The apex court heard Salem's plea last week and fixed the next hearing on September 18. But Salem withdrew the petition, thus clearing the way for TADA court to start prnouncing the judgement tomorrow.

A series of 13 bomb explosions had rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, in which 257 people were killed over 700 injured and property worth crores of rupees was destroyed.

More than 100 cops, including officers, besides intelligence officials participated in the security rehearsal today. Top police and intelligence officials were present on the occasion.

Police sources said more than 500 policemen besides personnel of State Reserve Police (SRP) will be deployed inside and outside the TADA court tomorrow. Extra care is being taken in view of the Malegaon blasts on Saturday which claimed 31 lives and left nearly 300 people, including children and women, wounded.

The lane adjoining the TADA court has been closed to pedestrians and vehicular traffic diverted.

Security will also be beefed up at the main gate of the jail.

Cinestar Sanjay Dutt and 86 other accused, who are out on bail, will appear before the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) Judge P D Kode. Of the remaining, 37 accused in custody, including members of the Memon family, who allegedly masterminded the blasts, and Salem will also be produced in the court. They are all lodged in the Arthur Road jail, located in South Central Mumbai.

The trial of 1993 serial blasts case had begun on June 30, 1995 and concluded in 2003, after the court examined 686 witnesses, two approvers and recorded evidence running into 14,000 pages.

The blast conspiracy was alllegedly hatched by Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, in Dubai in the aftermath of the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya and communal violence in Mumbai. It was executed by henchmen of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Tiger Memon, both of whom are still absconding. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had issued red-corner notices against them and they had been declared as 'proclaimed offenders'.

Crime Branch of the city police, which probed the case earlier, had also filed a chargesheet running into 10,000 pages. The probe was later handed over to CBI and on November 19, 1993, after the arrest of the accused, the central agency recorded confessional statements of all the accused.

The trial began on June 30, 1995 in the court of Mr J N Patel.

After his elevation to the High Court in 1996, Mr P D Kode took over and will now dictate the order.

During trial, all the accused retracted their confessions except two who turned approvers and stuck to their statements and delivered evidence against the accused.

Thirty seven accused, including Salem and Yakub Memon, are in custody, 86 are out on bail and 23 accused 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.

UNI XR-KU-ARM SA PK RK1724

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