Twenty four years after serial blasts rocked Mumbai to its core, a special court has sentenced two convicts to life imprisonment, two to death, and the last to 10 years in prison. On March 12, 1993, 12 consecutive lasts claimed 257 lives, and injured more than 700. It took more than two decades to serve justice, and even so, many feel justice hasn't been completely received.
A special judge presiding over the second trial pronounced death by hanging for Taher Merchant, 55, and Feroz Khan, 47, for having conspired to cause the RDX blasts. Extradited gangster Abu Salem, 48, by virtue of a Lisbon court order saying her could not be given death, and Karimullah Khan, 55, by Tada court judge G A Sanap, were spared the noose. Riyaz Siddiqui, 67, guilty of the lesser charge of abetment, was given 10 years and a fine of a few lakhs. He has been in jail for 11 years after his arrest in 2006.
The Tada court that pronounced the sentence, began with Karimullah's sentence, followed by Salem's, then Siddique's and the two big punishments in the last. The CBI had sought death for four, including Mustafa Dossa, who died in custody on June 28 before the sentencing. The court said Merchant was to be “hanged by the neck until dead”, later reading out a similar sentence against Feroz. It said the hanging was to be carried out only after the SC confirms the sentences. The judgement said, “RDX cannot be used as a powder to kill mosquitoes and flies, and it cannot be assumed that AK-56 rifles were being distributed in schools in Bombay as toys. The accused had knowledge about the offence.”
The blasts that occurred on a Friday, had targeted prominent landmarks including the Air India building, and the Bombay Stock Exchange. Bombs used were assembled in the garage at prime absconding Tiger Memon's Mahim house and packed into cars and scooters, which were then parked at various spots by planters.
The judge also slapped varying amounts of fines on the convicts after finding them guilty on various charges, including murder, hatching a criminal conspiracy to carry out the blasts, waging a war against the nation, supplying arms and ammunition, and other serious offences, Salve told media persons after the ruling.