The Special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court on Thursday pronounced the quantum of punishment for five convicts in the March 12 1993 serial blasts case, awarding death sentences to Firoz Khan and Tahir ‘Taklya’ Merchant, life terms to Abu Salem and Karimullah Khan, and a 10-year jail term to Riyaz Siddiqui.
The judgment came 24 years after 13 blasts ripped apart the city, killing 257 and injuring 713 persons. Thirty accused, including the alleged masterminds — underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, are still absconding.
On Thursday, Special TADA Judge G.A. Sanap awarded punishment under various sections of the TADA, Indian Penal Code, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and Destruction of Public Property Act. The court said all the accused would have to go through all the punishment concurrently.
The court also set off the sentence of the accused against the jail terms they had already served, but clarified that Salem’s term would be set off from the date of his arrest in India, and not keeping in mind the punishment he had undergone in Portugal.
Subsequently, the court imposed fines of Rs 4.75 lakh, Rs 8.88 lakh, Rs 4.85 lakh, Rs 8.51 lakh and Rs 10,000 on Firoz Khan, Karimullah Khan, Merchant, Salem and Siddiqui Rs 10,000 respectively.
The court at the end said that victims and family members of the deceased would be given compensation, as per the Criminal Procedure Code and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) Mumbai superintendent of police to list the names of all the deceased and injured victims within 15 days and submit it to the district legal services. The court then directed the district legal services to distribute the compensation amount.
On March 12, Ibrahim and his accomplices — seeking to take revenge for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya — targeted important sites in the city such as the Air India building, Shiv Sena Bhavan, Dadar’s Plaza cinema, Zaveri Bazar and the Centaur hotel in Juhu. According to officials, vast quantities of RDX were used in this operation.
Initially, 123 people were arrested, of which 100 were convicted in September 2006 but later Salem, Merchant, Karimullah Khan, Siddiqui, Firoz Khan, Abdul Qayuum and gangster Mustafa Dossa were arrested and separate trial took place in the special TADA court.