Mumbai: Two years back, Bashir Usman Ghani, serving life sentence in the 1993 serial Mumbai blasts, came out on parole to marry his lady love who had waited for him for two decades. 45-year-old Bashir, however, had to return to Nashik jail after expiry of parole to undergo the life imprisonment awarded to him by a TADA Court for his role in the bombings, the first in the long list of terror attacks to have rocked the city this day 20 years ago.
Bashir was lucky to tie the knot with the girl he loved but fate willed otherwise for Mohammed Shoib Ghansar, another convict in the same case, ordered to be taken to the gallows, says defence lawyer Subhash Kanse. Shoib had pleaded for leniency before the TADA court which convicted him and sentenced to death, saying he wanted to marry the girl who had waited for him for 13 years to enter into wedlock.
The girl used to come to the court housed in central prison to meet her father and had fallen in love with Shoib. The families of the two hoped that they would get married after Shoib came out of jail.
However, with his appeal still pending before the Supreme Court, the girl moved on to marry to someone else. "She perhaps realised there was little chance of his appeal being decided by the Supreme Court in the near future and that Shoib may never come out of jail," said Farhana Shah, who appeared for many accused in the case.
Bashir was found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy in the serial blasts case. He had gone with a team of absconding accused Tiger Memon to bomb a fishermen's colony in Mahim but developed cold feet and did not throw grenades like others and hence escaped death penalty, lawyer Kanse said. Shoib was found guilty of parking an RDX-laden scooter at Zaveri Bazaar on March 12, 1993, which exploded killing many.
Though a string of high-profile attacks have since rattled the city, which has emerged as the favourite target of various terrorist organisations, the 1993 bombings were Mumbai's first experience with modern-day terrorism. A total of 257 persons were killed and 713 others injured when a series 13 coordinated explosions shattered the metropolis on March 12, 1993. Property worth Rs 28 crore was destroyed in the explosions in which RDX was used for the first time in the country.
The blasts occurred at 12 places including Bombay Stock Exchange building, Air-India Building at Nariman Point, at Worli opposite Century Bazaar, Hotels Sea Rock and Juhu Centaur. As many as 100 accused, including Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, were convicted for their complicity.
Of them, 12 were awarded death penalty and 20 were given life sentence. Mohammed Iqbal, who got death sentence, died in jail after prolonged illness while SN Thapa, a former Customs officer, who was given life term, also passed away. However, the chief plotters of one of the deadliest terror attacks - underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon - are said to be sheltered in safe havens in Pakistan.
Most of the 100 convicts have filed appeals in the Supreme Court which has heard CBI and the defence and reserved orders. The CBI has pleaded for enhancement of punishment of 57 convicts.
The TADA Court had acquitted 23 accused. Among them were Raheen Memon, wife of prime accused Yakub Memon, Suleiman Memon, Tiger Memon's brother and Hanifa Memon, his mother.
The State challenged the acquittal of 17 accused in the Supreme Court which is yet to pronounce its verdict. Of the 20 who were given life sentence, one died and two got bail.
Seventeen are serving life sentence in jail along with 11 who got death penalty. The rest of the accused who were convicted are currently on bail and awaiting Supreme Court judgement on their appeals. If their sentence is confirmed, they will have to surrender and go back to jail.
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