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Justice for Black Friday: Abu Salem convicted for life in Mumbai 1993 serial blast case

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 7 September 2017, 15:14 IST

Gangster Abu Salem was sentenced to life in jail by a special TADA court in Mumbai on 7 September after being convicted for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai blasts in which 257 people were killed and over 700 seriously injured.

Two others, Tahir Merchant and Feroz Khan, were sentenced to death and another convict, Karimullah Khan, has been sentenced to a life term for the deadly blasts. Riyaz Siddiqui was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The TADA court had earlier, on 16 June, convicted all except Riyaz Siddiqui under charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, TADA Act, Explosive Substances Act, Explosives Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Siddiqui was convicted under Section 3 (3) of the TADA Act. Abdul Qayyum Sheikh had been acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Even though Mustafa Dossa, who was extradited from the UAE, was held guilty, the case against him was closed when he died of a heart attack on 28 June.

Thirty-five people, including prime accused Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon are still wanted in the case and are on the run.

Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. Under the extradition treaty, death penalty could not be awarded to him. More so, since the maximum sentence in Portugal is 25 years, Salem will only have to spend 13 more years in jail as he has already done 12 years behind bars.

Dark days

Salem was held guilty for being one of the main conspirators as he personally has brought the explosives and arms to Mumbai from Bharuch in Gujarat in January 1993.

He was also responsible for giving weapons to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was accused in the case for the illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle, 250 bullets and some hand grenades at his residence on 16 January 1993. The prosecution had charged that Dossa, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel had organising training camps and procuring arms from Pakistan.

Yakub Memon, who has been involved in the blasts, was hanged at Nagpur jail on 30 July 2015 after a historic middle-of-the-night hearing in which the Supreme Court dismissed his final appeal. He was found guilty of criminal conspiracy, funding to procure vehicles used in the blasts and providing logistic support for various trips of the conspirators to and from Dubai.

A series of 13 blasts ripped through Mumbai in quick succession on 12 March 1993 in retaliation to the demolition of the Babri masjid in Ayodhya in 1992. The targets included the Air India Building at Nariman Point, the Bombay Stock Exchange, Fishermen’s Colony in Mahim, Zaveri Bazar, Shiv Sena Bhavan at Dadar, Hotel Sea Rock in bandra and Hotel Juhu Centaur. Property worth Rs 25 crore was damaged.

First published: 7 September 2017, 15:14 IST