The most awaited part of the ongoing judgment in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case is here, and is creating a sensation.
Of the 123 accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, the public's eyes may be on the fate of accused number 117, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, while the case against him has overshadowed more serious allegations and contentions of the Mumbai police in the blasts case.
Since the judgment in the blasts case began to be announced by Judge Pramod Kode of the special TADA court, the Mumbai police, intelligence agencies, members of the Mumbai criminal world and, probably, fugitive prime accused Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon themselves were eagerly awaiting the judgment on Friday concerning two of the accused, Dawood Mohammed Phanse and Sharif Abdul Gafoor Parkar.
Because, in the 10,000-odd pages of the chargesheet filed in the case, only Phanse's testimony to the Mumbai police mentions Dawood Ibrahim's direct involvement in the blasts.
Phanse and Parkar were both convicted on Friday for their involvement in the case. The court accepted Phanse's confession that he had gone to Dubai to attend a conspiracy meeting convened by Dawood Ibrahim, thus giving judicial credibility to the police's findings about the underworld don's involvement in the case.
The verdict concerning Phanse is historic because wherever Dawood and Tiger Memon are, they know that although they have not been tried in an Indian court of law, they cannot now escape the stigma.
Senior police officer Rakesh Maria, who was investigating officer in the case, was delighted to see his team's investigations getting judicial endorsement after one of the most complicated and toughest criminal trials in Indian courts.
"Dawood Phanse's conviction proves that our investigation was on the right path. It proves Dawood Ibrahim's complicity in the 1993 bomb blasts. He was an integral part of the conspiracy which led to the blasts," Maria told rediff.com.
Phanse alias Dawood Taklya was convicted of attending a meeting in Dubai convened by Dawood Ibrahim to plan the conspiracy, and later organising the landing of arms, ammunition and explosives on the Shekhadi coast in Raigad district on February 3 and 7, 1993.
Dawood Ibrahim, in all his interviews with the media, banked on the assumption that the so-called meeting will not stand good in a court of law.
But, the TADA court has not only accepted the charge that the meeting took place, it has also convicted Phanse accordingly for being part of the conspiracy to wage war against India.
Parkar has also been found guilty under Section 6 of TADA and convicted for organising meetings of custom officials with the accused.
According to Phanse's testimony in Hindi, which has been upheld by Judge P D Kode, he claimed, 'Tiger Memon mujhe Dubai mein Dawoodbhai ke ghar le gaya. Main unko pahchana kyonki unka photo maine papers main dekha tha (Tiger Memon took me to Dawood Ibrahim's home in Dubai. I could recognise Dawood because I have seen his picture in newspapers.)'
Phanse, who is now bed-ridden and ageing, in his confessions also said, 'Dawoodbhai told me that Tiger jo bolega voh maal landing karne ka. Apne ko Babri Masjid girayi hai uska badla lena hai (Dawood told me to listen to whatever Tiger says and help land the goods. We have to take revenge for the demolition of Babri Masjid).'
Phanse told the court that after that meeting, he was driven back to the hotel by Dawood Ibrahim in his Mercedes car. As per the instructions given by Dawood, Phanse and Parkar helped Tiger Memom smuggle RDX which was used in the Mumbai blasts.
He also confessed that the duo bribed all Customs officers except for additional collector S N Thapa, who incidentally is an accused in the case.
"The judgment finally proves that Dawood Ibrahim was part of the blasts conspiracy," Maria said.