MUMBAI: Twenty-four years after 12 blasts rocked the city killing 257 and leaving 713 grievously injured, a special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court on Friday convicted six out of the seven accused, including Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa. In the dock is a second batch of accused, tried by special judge Govind A Sanap, after the main trial of 123 accused ended in 2006 with the conviction of 100.
The court has set the next hearing date on June 19 (Monday) to decide the date for argument on quantum of sentence.
Others who were convicted include Feroz Khan, Taher Merchant, Riyaz Siddiqui, Karimulla Khan. The court pronounced the sentence after hearing arguments from the defence and the prosecution. Out of the six convicted by the Tada court, only five face the gallows. Riyaz Siddiqui will only attract life sentence as he is not held guilty of criminal conspiracy.
Abdul Qayyum Shaikh who has been acquitted by the court had allegedly sent arms and ammunition from abroad which landed at Dighi Jerry. He also had allegedly sold a licensed revolver to Sanjay Dutt in September 1992. Special CBI counsel Deepak Salvi said trial for the seven, arrested between 2003 and 2010, had to be separated as they were nabbed after a substantial portion of the previous trial was completed.
With no other accused currently in custody, the Friday verdict was the last in the case for now. Thirty-three accused are absconding, including key conspirators Dawood Ibrahim, his brother Anees Ibrahim, Mustafa’s brother Mohammed Dossa and Tiger Memon.
Salem was extradited in November 2005 from Portugal. His confession led to the arrests of Siddiqui and Shaikh. Mustafa was named in 1995 by a co-accused and arrested in 2003 after he arrived in Delhi from Dubai.
The CBI submitted the attacks were planned to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, and the riots in its aftermath. The lesser known Taher (60) also has a predominant role. A resident of Kambekar Street in central Mumbai, he grew up with Dawood and his brothers and was said to be the don’s trusted aide. He allegedly motivated associates to arrange men from Mumbai for training in handling of arms and ammunition in Pakistan. Taher is also accused of collecting funds to procure arms and ammunition. He was extradited from Abu Dhabi in 2010. The 12 coordinated attacks between 1.30 pm and 3.40 pm on March 12, 1993, planned over 15 meetings across UAE and India, also destroyed property worth Rs 27 crore. Special CBI counsel Deepak Salvi told the court in his opening arguments that “this was the first ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX was used on such a large scale after the Second World War.”
Special judge Sanap took over the trial in 2011 and the proceedings concluded in March this year. The trial was stayed after both the accused and the prosecution moved the apex court challenging various legalities.Dossa’s lawyer Rizwan Merchantchallenged the applicability of the voluminous evidence of 686 witnesses from the previous trial.