Script: Venkat Parsa, Political Commentator
The verdict by the Special Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Court in the Serial Bomb Blasts case of Mumbai, way back in 1993; is indeed a landmark. The verdict has nailed the role of Pakistan, which planned, organised and assisted in the execution of one of the worst terror attacks in India.
Acquisition of RDX and lethal weapons, indoctrination of misguided people, training them in the use of arms and masterminding of the entire operation by Pakistan has come out clearly in the judicial process without any shred of doubt. It provides proof, if proof were ever needed, to nail the role of Pakistan.
This was the one of the ghastliest of serial bomb blasts anywhere in the world. Ironically, the Pakistani terror plot that first manifested in 1993 still continues unabated. Pakistan has since emerged as a global terror hub.
The verdict is also a landmark because it proves the maturity of the Indian legal system. The Indian judiciary demonstrated that it never jumps the gun. Even when Ajmal Kasab was caught red-handed in the Mumbai terror attacks of26/11, he was allowed to avail all the legal avenues open to him including an appeal to the President of India for clemency. It was only after he exhausted all the avenues that his execution was carried out.
Despite the lapse of 24 years, the Special TADA Court handed out a verdict that serves to restore faith of people who were the near and dear ones of the victims in the rule of law. There was a verdict in 2007 and now it is the second verdict in the case. In the first trial in this case, the court had, in 2007, convicted 100 persons, even while acquitting 23. It included the execution of Yakub Memon in 2015, which was the first instance of death sentence in the dastardly tragedy that shook the nation. It was also significant that noted film star Sanjay Dutt was convicted and sentenced to jail, in the Mumbai serial blasts.
Although there was no role of Sanjay Dutt in the conspiracy, he was booked under the Arms Act, showing that no one was above law.
At that time, the court had directed the prosecution to safeguard the evidence for use against the absconding accused. Accordingly, when the law-enforcing agencies managed to nab some more of the absconding accused, diligently one by one, the second phase of the trial was conducted that resulted in the conviction of 6 more guilty.
In the second batch, convictions were of the men on the ground, who helped set up the serial blasts in Mumbai. They were the ones, who organised travel to Pakistan for attending conspiracy meetings, arranging the landing and transportation of arms from Bharuch in Gujarat to Mumbai.
However, there can be a closure to the case only with the conviction of Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, who are still at large and are now sheltered in Pakistan.
On March 12, 1993, 12 bomb blasts were synchronised within a span of 130 minutes that rocked Mumbai, the Commercial Capital of India. The idea was to target the Indian economy, as the Mumbai Stock Exchange, Banks and Star Hotels were targeted. The entire plot was hatched with the active involvement of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The copious investigations that followed, initially by the Mumbai Police and later by the CBI, did succeed in establishing the hand of Pakistan that triggered the serial blasts in Mumbai.
A key factor in the case was unravelling the plot hatched to execute the synchronised bomb blasts. Then the police embarked upon the laborious task of probe into the killing of 257 persons, across 12 sites in Mumbai, on the fateful day of 12th March, 1993. A carefully crafted strategy helped in cutting down the trial time. In cases such as this, proving every death becomes a long-winding process. Instead of proving the death of 257 people and injuries to 717 people, the CBI cut down the number to 2 deaths and 2 injured per site. It not only facilitated the prosecution, but also expedited the trial.
Towards this end, the investigative teams and the Special TADA Court deserve kudos for the sustained and laborious efforts to bring laurels to the Indian judicial system.