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Salem admits delivering rifles to Sanjay Dutt

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 01, 2006 20:41 IST
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Extradited gangster Abu Salem has confessed that he delivered two or three AK 56 rifles and some ammunition to actor Sanjay Dutt at the latter's residence before the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai.

The TADA court today opened the sealed envelope containing Salem's confession to the Central Bureau of Investigation regarding his role in the blasts.

In his confession, Salem has also said that though he was involved in transportation of these weapons, initially he had no idea that he was transporting weapons.

According to Salem, during his stay in Mumbai, he got into trade of smuggled silver, and one Aziz, with whom he used to deal, once asked him to accompany to Gujarat to collect a silver consignment in January 1993. Salem, Aziz and one more person travelled to Bhiwandi in neighbouring Thane district, where they took charge of a Maruti van, which was supposed to have Silver hidden in cavities.

On his return to Mumbai, Salem was asked to meet Samir Hingora and Hanif Kadawala, owners of Magnum Video, and along with them, he visited the residence of actor Sanjay Dutt at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra, the extradited gangster has said in his confession statement. Salem was called back the next day to Dutt's house with the van along with Baba Chouhan, now an accused in the serial blasts case, the confession said.

"Samir (Hingora) ke kehne par Sanjay Dutt ne tool kit mangwayi, aur un tool ki madadd se Samir ke kehne par maine aur Baba ne Maruti van ki sides aur flooring kholi," Salem has said, claiming that the sides and flooring of the van was opened at the instance of Samir Hingora.

He further said, "maine dekha ke uske andar lagbhag 9-10 rifley (rifles), 80-90 hathgoley (handgrenades), kuch magazine aur goliyan bhi thi." The extradited gangster said he was terrified by the arms cache. However, according to him, Dutt was unfazed and was handling the guns, grenades and rounds. "Gaadi mein rakkhi rifles vagairah Sanjay Dutt, Baba (Chouhan) aur Hingora utha utha kar dekh rahe the.... Iske baad 2-3 rifley, kuch hathgoley aur kuch goliyan, magazine, Sanjay Dutt ne le li thi," Salem has said.

Salem said, a few days later, Sanjay Dutt returned the weapons, which Salem moved from one place to another to avoid getting caught. "I asked Aziz why he lied about the consignment. But he said the job was being done on the diktat by Anees Kaskar (younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim)," Salem has further said.

Salem claimed that he was not aware of the explosions conspiracy, and did not know the reason behind the blasts till March 12 blasts rocked Mumbai. "Some days after the blasts, Baba Chouhan was arrested and Aziz told me to leave Mumbai as early as possible to avoid getting caught," Salem has said, adding that he fled to native Azamgarh in UP with wife Sumaira, and subsequently to Lucknow, where he used an old acquaintance to get forged passports to flee to Dubai. After staying in Dubai for some months, he moved to the US and to Portugal in 2002, before being caught and extradited, Salem has said.

"I have confessed about what ever mistake I committed; I am repenting that and I wish I get one opportunity to reform myself," Salem has concluded in his confession statement. In the statement, Salem has also mentioned that the person who delivered the Maruti Van at Bhiwandi was Riyaz Siddiqui.

The CBI used this information to arrest Siddiqui, and has now charged him of criminal conspiracy in the blasts case. CBI on Wednesday quoted portions of the confession statement to impress upon the designated TADA court that Siddiqui was part of the conspiracy.
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