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1993 Mumbai blasts: Four of Memon family convicted

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 12, 2006 17:31 IST
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Four members of the Memon family -- Yakub, Essa, Yusuf and Rubina -- were found guilty on Tuesday in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

However, three other members of the family -- Suleiman, Rahin and Hanifa -- have been set free by the special Terrorists And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) court, giving them the benefit of doubt.

The first batch of the judgement in the 1993 serial blasts that killed 257 people was pronounced by Judge P D Kode on Tuesday 13 years after the attacks.

Arguments between defence and prosecution on the quantum of sentence for the four convicted Memon family members would take place on Wednesday. Earlier, the court had said the arguments would take place on Tuesday itself.

The court has accepted the prosecution's plea that quantum of punishment to be given those directly involved in the 1993 serial blasts case be pronounced first, Special Public Prosecutor in the case Ujjwal Nikam said.

"Their verdict will start tommorow or the day after," he said outside the TADA court.

The judgement on the arrested accused, who are charged with direct involvement like planting the bombs at the sites, is likely to be pronounced first. 

One of the main accused, Tiger Memon has been declared an absconder, while the family patriarch and eighth accused, Abdul Razzak Memon, passed away during the trial and the case against him has been abetted.

The four members of the Memon family have been found guilty of involvement in the conspiracy hatched for triggering the serial blasts.

Prosecution had accused the Memons of allowing their garages to be used to plant RDX in vehicles that exploded at 13 places in Mumbai on March 12, 1993. The Memon brothers were also charged with arranging funds for other co-accused.

Tiger and his brother Yakub had arranged money for Ayub, Rubina, Shabana and Reshma through their NRI accounts in Hongkong Bank, Bandra branch, in furtherance of the blasts' conspiracy, the chargesheet said.

The Memons had fled the country on March 12 and 13, which indicated that they had prior knowledge of the conspiracy, the CBI had argued before the court.  

The court also rejected Yakub Memon's plea to allow one week's time for Rubina to surrender as she has to take care of her children and make appropriate arrangements for them. The court said all the four would be taken into custody on Tuesday.

As for the three other members of the Memon family, the court said although there was no clear case for their acquittal, there was not enough evidence to convict them and hence they were set free giving them the benefit of doubt.

In a burst of anger, after their request was rejected, Yakub, who is also a chartered accountant by profession, stood up and shouted that he and his family did not want any lawyer to argue on their behalf for the quantum of sentence.

"We have seen that for the last 13 years innocent people have been labelled terrorists. We do not need anyone to protect us," an enraged Yakub said.

Later he moved to the dock where the other accused were sitting and his brothers were seen consoling him.

The verdict against actor Sanjay Dutt is expected to be given in some weeks.

Security was tightened on Tuesday morning in and around the court, which will decide the fate of 123 accused in the case. On August 10, the court had started dictation of the verdict and said it would deliver the final judgement on September 12.

The entire area around the designated TADA court, located within Arthur Road jail premises, resembled a fortress as a large posse of security personnel were stationed outside since Monday.

Security personnel had a tough time controlling the crowd, including media and relatives of the accused, which had gathered in the small bylane outside the jail.

The accused, including actor Sanjay Dutt, began arriving at the makeshift court within the jail premises, since early morning.

Dutt, wearing shirt and denims and accompanied by sister Priya and state Minister Baba Siddiqui, looked calm as he entered the court. He left the court soon after the first verdict was pronounced Judge Kode.

The case is historic as Central Bureau of Investigation, the prosecuting agency, has examined 686 witnesses. The court has recorded 13,000 pages as evidence during the trial, which went on for six years -- a record of sorts in Indian legal history.

Altogether, 257 people were killed and 173 injured when series of explosions rocked 13 places in Mumbai on March 12, 1993. Property worth Rs 27 crores was destroyed in the blasts.

Ninety-four accused, including Sanjay Dutt, are currently on bail, while 29 others are in jail custody. Trial of three more accused -- Abu Salem, Riyaz Siddiqui and Mustafa Dossa -- has been separated as they were arrested much later.

Eleven accused died during trial while one, Riyaz Khatri jumped bail and two others -- Samajwadi Party MP Abu Asim Azmi and Amjad Mehr Baksh -- were discharged by the Supreme Court.

Twenty-nine accused were discharged earlier by the Supreme Court while 29 people were declared absconding when the chargesheet was filed in 1993 soon after the bomb blasts.

The blasts were masterminded by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim with the help of his lieutenants Tiger Memon and Mohammed Dossa, allegedly at the instance of Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, to avenge demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid, the CBI has claimed in the chargesheet.

According to CBI, the perpetrators of the serial blasts intended to shatter the country's economy, as was indicative from the selection of blasts sites namely Bombay Stock Exchange, Air-India building, hotel Sea Rock, Hotel Centaur Juhu, Hotel Centaur Airport, and in the busy areas of Zaveri Bazaar, Katha Bazaar and Century Bazaar.

A petrol pump near the Shiv Sena Bhavan and Plaza theatre were also targeted as blasts killed many people.

As part of the conspiracy, hand grenades were hurled at a Hindu colony in Mahim, triggering riots in Mumbai in which several motor vehicles, shops and houses were damaged.

Hand grenades were also hurled at the airport but no damage was caused, while RDX-stuffed scooters that had failed to explode were seized from Naigaon and Dhanji Street.

The explosions occurred between 1:30 pm to 3:40 pm on a Friday, sending shockwaves among the people across the country.

The CBI has said that a well-planned conspiracy was hatched by Dawood, Memon and Dossa in 1992, which resulted in landing of arms and RDX at Shekadhi in Raigad district on January 7, 1993 and February 2, 1993.

Another consignment of arms landed at Dighi coast in Raigad district, near Mumbai, on January 9, 1993, and this was
handled by Mohammed Dossa.

Dawood, Memon and Dossa are absconding accused in the list of 29. While Dawood was already abroad when the blasts occurred, Memon and Dosa fled a day before.

According to special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, the conspiracy meetings were held at the house of co-accused Babloo and Mubina Baya Bhiwandiwala, adopted sister of Tiger Memon. Another round of meetings were also held in Dubai and in Persian Durbar Hotel at Panvel.

Nikam said there is evidence against Dawood Ibrahim, but defence lawyer Farhana Shah said the only evidence against him was the statement of co-accused Dawood Phanse.

In furtherance of conspiracy, Tiger Memon, at the insistence of Dawood and his absconding brother Anees Ibrahim, summoned his men, Dawood Taklya, Abdul Kadar, Aziz Mohamed Shaikh, Ahmed Shah Khan, Yakub Memon, Ayub Memon, Taher Taklya and Mohammed Dossa between December 1992 to January 1993 to chalk out plans to create explosions and strike terror.

Twenty-five accused were sent to Pakistan via Dubai for training in arms and ammunition. Their visits were sponsored by local firms in Dubai and trips were arranged in collusion with Pakistani agents as it transpired during investigations that no immigration formalities were observed at Islamabad airport, according to chargesheet filed by CBI.

They travelled by Pakistan International Airlines and their passports were collected by Tiger Memon and his men.

It also transpired during investigations that the accused were indoctrinated by their foreign trainers that Muslims in India had suffered heavily during communal riots of 1992-93 and thus their religious sentiments were exploited to strike terror, it said.

Bulk of finance relating to travel of the accused to Pakistan for arms training came from Yakub Memon and Ayub Memon, brothers of Tiger Memon.

Eighteen other accused took part in training programmes in villages Sandheri and Bhorghat in Raigad district of Maharashtra. They were trained to handle AK-56 rifles, 9 mm pistols, hurling hand grenades and in the use of RDX.

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