In some sense of closure for the families of over 250 innocent victims, a special TADA court on Thursday sentenced Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan to life imprisonment, along with Rs 2 lakh fine, after they were convicted of murder and criminal conspiracy in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
The court also awarded death penalty to two of the convicts, Riyaz Siddiqui and Tahir Merchant.
A series of 12 blasts ripped through Mumbai within a span of two hours on 12 March 1993, leaving 257 people dead, 713 seriously injured and damaging properties worth Rs 27 crore.
Arguments over the degree of sentences continued after the conviction in June and concluded on August 10.
On June 16, the court had found extradited gangster Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui and Tahir Merchant guilty in this case. Salem, who was extradited from Portugal in 2005, was charged with supplying the arms and ammunition, including the deadly RDX, which were used in the blasts.
Mustafa Dossa, on the other hand, was convicted under section IPC 302 and IPC 307 and he was found guilty of taking part in the blasts conspiracy meetings held in India and Dubai before the terror strike was carried out at 12 targets in Mumbai. He was also found guilty of arranging for the arms and ammunition for the blasts with his brother Mohammed Dossa and making travel arrangements for some of the persons involved to meet absconder mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar.
Tahir Merchant was convicted under section IPC 120 B, IPC 302, IPC 307, IPC 324, IPC 326, IPC 201, IPC 212, Arms act, Explosive Act, 3 (3) TADA Act.
Another accused Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan was convicted under section IPC 120 B, IPC 302, IPC 307, IPC 324, IPC 326, IPC 201, IPC 212, Arms Act, Explosive Act, 3 (3) TADA Act.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought a life sentence for Salem, who will enjoy protection under section 34 (C) of the Extradition Act between India and Portugal. As per the provision, if the law of the country from where an accused has been extradited does not provide for capital punishment, he cannot be awarded death sentence.
Concluding his submissions before Special TADA court judge GA Sanap on the quantum of sentence for the convicts on July 5, special public prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation Deepak Salvi said, “Though he deserves death, I am bound to seek a life sentence”.
"Salem is a habitual offender and an incorrigible recidivist, hence leaving no room whatsoever for the accused to assert that there is even a faint glimmer of hope for the accused to reform," said Salvi, before adding, "In the circumstances, though nothing short of the death penalty would aptly fit the demonic crime committed by him," he concluded, "it is prayed, albeit with a heavy heart and a reluctant disposition... to award the punishment for life imprisonment."
As it happened:
01:57pm: Abu Salem has requested the court to shift to Uttar Pradesh jail, claiming that his life is in danger in Maharashtra.
1993 Mumbai Blasts Case: Convicts have been given sentences for different offences, all punishments will run concurrently.— ANI (@ANI) September 7, 2017
Convicts will get set-off for the time they have served in jail: Ujjwal, Public Prosecutor on 1993 Mumbai Blasts case sentence pic.twitter.com/WEpaF0PzcU— ANI (@ANI) September 7, 2017
12:57 pm: Fourth accused Tahir Merchant gets death penalty.
12:56 pm: Court sentences 10 years jail to Riyaz Siddhiqui, who is a close aide of Abu Salem.
12:50 pm: Court sentences Abu Salem to life imprisonment and Rs 2 lakh fine.
12:36 pm: TADA court sentences Karimullah Khan to lifetime imprisonment, slaps Rs 2 lakh fine on him.
Mumbai: Abu Salem and 4 other convicts reach court for quantum of sentence hearing in 1993 blast case— ANI (@ANI) September 7, 2017
10:58 am: Abu Salem is being taken to the TADA court from jail.
10:20 am: 1993 Mumbai blasts case: Abu Salem, four others to face punishment today
On March 12, 1993 the country’s commercial capital witnessed an unprecedented terrorist attack when a series 12 bomb explosions took place one after another in about a span of two hours. The blasts took place at Bombay Stock Exchange, Katha Bazaar, Lucky petrol pump near Sena Bhavan, opposite Passport office near Century Bazaar, Fishermen’s colony at Mahim Causeway, at basement of Air India Building, Zaveri Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, Plaza Theatre, Centaur Hotel (Juhu), Sahar Airport (Bay no.54) and Centaur Hotel (near airport).
This was the first ever terrorist attack in the world where RDX (Research Department Explosive i.e cyclotrimethylene trinitramine) was used on such a large scale after the Second World War.
According to the prosecution, in order to avenge the demolition of Babri Masjid, members of the crime syndicate under the fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim along with other absconding accused Tiger Memon, Mohammed Dossa and Mustafa Dossa (who is presently facing trial) hatched a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in India.
The prosecution said that the object of the crime was to commit terrorist acts with an intent to overawe the Government of India, to strike terror on the people, alienate section of the people and to harm the communal harmony. It said that the conspirators smuggled fire-arms, ammunitions, detonators, hand grenades and highly explosive substances like RDX into India and stored it.
According to the prosecution, Mustafa Dossa, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel organised training camps in Pakistan and in India to impart and undergo weapon and arms training and handling of explosives. They also sent men from India to Pakistan via Dubai for arms training.
The prosecution also said that the conspirators held 15 meetings before the execution of the blasts.