2 Indians Sentenced to Death for Mumbai Bombings in 1993

Prabhat Sharan
170907-IN-mumbai-620.jpg An Indian police officer stands beside a charred automobile outside the Air India Building in Mumbai following a series of bombings, March 14, 1993.

An Indian court on Thursday sentenced two men to death and two others to life in prison for the country’s deadliest terrorist bombings that killed more than 250 people in Mumbai 24 years ago.

The series of 13 blasts that ripped through the western coastal city of Mumbai, known as India’s financial hub, on March 12, 1993, also wounded at least 700 people. The Indian government blames Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai-born gangster who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, for the attack.

A special court sentenced Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and Tahir Merchant to death and gave life terms to Karimullah Khan and Abu Salem, a high-profile underworld kingpin who was arrested by the Interpol in Portugal in 2002 and subsequently deported to India in 2005.

Another accused, Riaz Siddiqui, received a 10-year jail term.

Prosecutors said the bombings were widely believed to be an act of revenge against communal riots that occurred after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a 16th-century mosque, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in 1992. At least 2,000 people, both Hindus and Muslims, were killed in the almost month-long violence, according to official figures.

The court had convicted the accused on June 16. More than 100 others already have been convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from life imprisonment to death.

‘Historic judgment’

Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was instrumental in getting the convictions in a trial that lasted more than two decades.

“It was a historic judgment and its impact will reverberate for years,” he said, according to the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

Survivors of the brutal assault that targeted prominent sites, including hotels and shopping bazaars, across the city said they were dissatisfied over the verdict.

“Why didn’t everyone get the death sentence” Kirti Ajmera, a real-estate broker, who was injured in the explosion outside the Bombay Stock Exchange building, told BenarNews.

Journalist Daya Kishan, who immediately went to the building after news broke, recalled seeing bodies and blood scattered on the street.

“Justice, but too late, too little,” he said. “What about those that hatched this entire attack? They used people, and are now sitting safe in another country,” Kishan said, referring to Ibrahim, the underworld kingpin.

Kamla Malkani lost her sister in one of the explosions. She blamed the government for not doing enough to help families of the victims.

“Until this day, the government has not come forward to help families of those who lost their lives, their belief in humanity that day,” she told BenarNews.


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