A special TADA court here today convicted six persons including mastermind Mustafa Dossa and extradited gangster Abu Salem in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, 24 years after the attacks left 257 people dead. It, however, let off one accused Abdul Quayyum, for want of evidence against him. This was the second leg of the trial. All the seven accused were facing multiple charges which included criminal conspiracy, waging war against the Government of India and murder. In the first leg of the trial that concluded in 2007, the TADA court had convicted 100 accused in the case, while 23 people were acquitted. The present trial of the seven accused -- Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Quayyum -- was separated from the main case as they were arrested at the time of conclusion of the main trial. The dastardly attacks had also left 713 seriously injured and destroyed properties worth Rs 27 crore. Besides accused Riyaz Siddiqui, all the other five convicts were pronounced guilty by Special Judge G A Sanap for criminal conspiracy, murder under various sections of the IPC besides offences under TADA, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Destruction of Public Property Act. Siddiqui was only convicted under TADA for helping Abu Salem and others in transportation of arms. The court, however, absolved all the seven accused in the case from the charge of waging war against the nation. While Dossa allegedly masterminded the landing of explosives including RDX in India and sent some youth to Pakistan to acquire arms training to execute the strikes, Salem transported weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts. He had also handed over to actor Sanjay Dutt-- who was an accused in the case for illegally possessing weapons-- AK 56 rifles, 250 rounds and some hand grenades at his residence on January 16, 1993. Two days later on January 18, 1993 Salem and two others went to Dutt's house and got back two rifles and some rounds. Earlier, the court had dropped certain charges against Salem in 2013 after the investigating agency --CBI-- moved a plea, saying those charges were against the extradition treaty between India and Portugal. The arguments for sentencing in the case (for six convicts) is likely to commence on Monday. The court, in all, recorded statements of around 750 prosecution witnesses and 50 witnesses.
Three accused including Salem had confessed to their crime during investigations carried out by the CBI over the years into the blasts case. Though the hearing in the case began in 2007, it was delayed as three petitions were pending with the Supreme Court, one each filed by Dossa and Salem, and another by CBI. The trial resumed in 2012 and concluded this March. The case (involving the seven accused) was first heard by judge Pramod Kode, who had also delivered the judgement in the first leg of the trial and convicted 100 accused in 2007. It was during the trial in 2013 that the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement on appeal filed by all the accused wherein key conspirator Yakub Memon's death sentence was confirmed, while that of others (all bomb planters) were commuted to life imprisonment. Sanjay Dutt and many others surrendered before the TADA court here in May 2013 after SC upheld their conviction. Yakub Memon was executed on July 30, 2015 after his several pleas seeking clemency were rejected, including the post-midnight hearing by Supreme Court on the day he was hanged. 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 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.
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