1993 Mumbai Blasts, closure or fault lines?

Rajat Kain

gatewayThe top court has confirmed the single death sentence awarded to 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon. Memon had filed a review petition against Supreme Court’s own judgement of 21st March 2013 where he was sentenced to death. Thirty other accused were sentenced for life which included 10 of those whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In that judgement, popular bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt too was held guilty under the provisions of Arms Act and was accorded five years in jail.

Yakub Memon is brother of serial blast mastermind Tiger Memon.

Yakub has been in jail since he was arrested by Nepal police at Kathmandu Airport and handed over to CBI in 1995. His accounting firm used to handle the finances of brother Tiger Memon’s illegal operations, which included lucrative silver smuggling.

257 people were killed and more than 700 were wounded in the barbaric serial blasts across India’s commercial capital which shook the entire country.

Supreme Court’s three-judge bench headed by Justice Anil R. Dave rejected Memon’s review petition nearly 10 months after taking up his plea. Memon is the sole death row convict in this case after the apex court had commuted the death sentence awarded to 10 accused by the TADA Special Court into life imprisonment in its March 2013 judgement.

The 1993 serial bombings are considered to be first ever organised terrorist activity with an active support from the underworld. First bomb blast took place at the busy Bombay Stock Exchange followed by commercial centres like crowded Zaveri Baazar, Century Bazaar, Katha Bazaar, fishermen colony in Mahim causeway, Plaza Cinema, Hotel Sea Rock, Hotel Juhu Centaur, Sahar Airport, Air India Building, Passport Office and one near Sena Bhawan.

The extent and aftermath of the serial blast devastated the city and paralysed the country.

A lengthy investigations ensued with the crack team of Mumbai police arresting Asghar Mukhadam, mastermind Tiger Memon’s accountant followed by others. Almost all the accused were the residents of the city. The blasts were seen as retaliation to communal violence spread across the city in the backdrop of Babri masjid demolition. Incidentally, the riot victims, on both side of the divide, are still waiting for the justice.

Among the most notable who were arrested for the serial blast was film star Sanjay Dutt — the established star by then. As the cinema lovers waited for his would be blockbuster ‘Khalnayak’, the hero had turned an anti-hero. Live ammunition and an unlicensed weapon were found in his possession.

But the city had developed other fault lines too.

With the probe groping inside the warren alleys of the city, it stumbled on an emerging nexus between the Pakistan’s ISI and underworld in Mumbai. The dark underbelly has seen the light of a day. Both ISI and underworld don Dawoon Ibrahim Kasker are believed to have lent their weight behind the act. ISI denied their involvement, which was expected, while Dawood Ibrahim is yet to be traced, arrested, put to a legal process and brought to justice. Indian agencies have since tried hard to arrest both mastermind Tiger Memon and don Dawood Ibrahim. Both remain untraced and out of the country. Legally, they are considered as absconders in the case.

The serial bomb blasts had also exposed the fault lines in the security and intelligence system and the vulnerable sea shores of the maximum city. It was established in the investigations that RDX used for the bombs and other weapons were smuggled inside the city through the sea route.

Ironically, the perpetrators of the 26th November Mumbai attack too used the sea route to enter the city.

With this judgement, the near 22 year old series of court case beginning with TADA Special Court to the Supreme Court have come to an end. Is it a closure for the victims? Has the city and the nation moved on? Or the width and margins of the blasts, probe and lengthy trial exposed another fault line?