1993 Bombay bombings
LocationBombay, Maharashtra, India
Date12 March 1993
13:30–15:40 (UTC+05:30)
Target
Attack type
Weapons13 car bombs (RDX) containing shrapnel
Injured257 (deaths)
1,400 (injuries)[1]
PerpetratorsIndian Mafia groups affiliated with D-Company

The 1993 Bombay bombings were a series of 12[3][4][5] terrorist bombings that took place in Bombay, Maharashtra, on 12 March 1993.[6] The single-day attacks resulted in 257 fatalities and 1,400 injuries.[2][1][7][8][9] The attacks were coordinated by Dawood Ibrahim,[10] leader of the Mumbai-based international organised crime syndicate D-Company.[11] Ibrahim was believed to have ordered and helped organize the bombings through his subordinates Tiger Memon and Yakub Memon.

For several years, confusion existed about the number of blasts, whether they were 12 or 13 in number. This was because Sharad Pawar, the then chief minister of Maharashtra, stated on television that day that there had been 13 blasts, and included a Muslim-dominated locality in the list. He later revealed that he had lied on purpose, and that there had been only 12 blasts, none of them in Muslim-dominated areas; he also confessed that he had attempted to mislead the public into believing that the blasts could be the work of the LTTE, a Sri Lankan militant organization, when in fact intelligence reports had already confirmed to him that Mumbai's Muslim underworld (known as the "D-Company", a reference to Dawood Ibrahim) were the perpetrators of the serial blasts.[12][13]

The Supreme Court of India gave its judgement on 21 March 2013, after over 20 years of judicial proceedings, upholding the death sentence against suspected ringleader Yakub while commuting the previous death sentences against 10 others to life in prison.[14][15][16] However, two of the main suspects in the case, Ibrahim and Tiger, have not yet been arrested or tried.[17] After India's three-judge Supreme Court bench rejected his curative petition, saying the grounds raised by him do not fall within the principles laid down by the apex court in 2002,[18] the Maharashtra government executed Yakub on 30 July 2015.[19]

Background

In December 1992 and January 1993, there was widespread rioting throughout the nation[20] following the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya, where some of the most notable riots occurred in Bombay. Five years after the December–January riots, the Srikrishna Commission report found that 900 individuals had died and over 2,000 had been injured.[21]

Confession of Gul Mohammed

On 9 March 1993, three days before the bombings took place, a small-time criminal from the Behrampada slum in Northeast Mumbai named Gul Noor Mohammad Sheikh (Gullu) was detained at the Nag Pada police station. A participant in the communal riots that had rocked Mumbai the previous year, Gullu was also one of the 19 men handpicked by Tiger Memon, whose office was burnt in the riots. Tiger was a silver smuggler and chief mastermind of the bombings, for training in the use of guns and bomb-making.[22]

Gullu had been sent to Pakistan via Dubai on 19 February 1993 and upon completion of his training returned to Mumbai on 4 March. In his absence, the police had detained Gullu's brothers to encourage him to surrender, which he did. He confessed to his role in the riots, his training in Pakistan, and a conspiracy underway to bomb major locations around the city, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, Sahar International Airport and the Sena Bhavan. However, his conspiracy claim was dismissed by the police as a "mere bluff".[22]

The arrest of Gul Mohammed spurred Tiger Memon to advance the date of the bombings which had originally been planned to coincide with the Shiv Jayanti celebrations in April 1993.[22][23]

The bombings

At 13:30 hours on 12 March 1993, a powerful car bomb exploded in the basement of the Bombay Stock Exchange building. The 28-storey office building was severely damaged and many nearby office buildings also suffered damage. Reports indicate that 50 were killed by this explosion.[24] About 30 minutes later, another car bomb exploded in front of the Mandvi branch of Corporation Bank. From 13:30 hours to 15:40 hours a total of 12 bombs exploded throughout Mumbai. Most of the bombs were car bombs but some were in scooters.[25]

Three hotels – the Hotel Sea Rock, Hotel Juhu Centaur, and Hotel Airport Centaur – were targeted by suitcase bombs left in rooms booked by the perpetrators.[26] Banks, the regional passport office, the Air India Building, and a major shopping complex were also hit. Bombs exploded at Zaveri Bazaar and opposite it, a jeep-bomb exploded at the Century Bazaar.[27] Grenades were thrown at Sahar International Airport and at Fishermen's Colony, apparently targeting certain citizens at the latter.[28] A double-decker bus was very badly damaged in the deadliest explosion, with as many as 90 people killed.[27]

The locations attacked:

Political deception

On 10 July 2006, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar, admitted that he had "deliberately misled" people following the 1993 Mumbai bombings by saying there were "13 and not 12" explosions and had added the name of a Muslim-dominated locality to show that people from both communities had been affected.[33] He attempted to justify this deception by claiming that it was a move to prevent communal riots by falsely portraying that both Hindu and Muslim communities in the city had been affected adversely. He also admitted to lying about evidence recovered and misleading people into believing that it pointed to the Tamil Tigers as possible suspects.[34]

Aftermath

The official number of fatalities was 257 with 1,400 others injured (some sources reported that 317 people died;[35] this misreport was due to a bomb which killed 69 in Calcutta on 16 March[2] and was not part of 12 March Bombay bombings).

The bombings caused a major rift within D-Company, the most powerful criminal organisation in the Bombay underworld, headed by Dawood Ibrahim. Infuriated at the bombings, Ibrahim's right-hand man, Chotta Rajan, split from the organisation and took most of the leadership-level Hindu aides with him, including Sadhu, Jaspal Singh and Mohan Kotiyan. Rajan's split divided the Bombay underworld along communal lines and pitted Chhota Rajan's predominantly Hindu gang against Dawood Ibrahim's predominantly Muslim D-Company. The ensuing gang war took the lives of more than a hundred gangsters and continues in 2017.[36] Seven of the accused (Salim Kurla, Majeed Khan, Shakil Ahmed, Mohammed Jindran, Hanif Kadawala, Akbar Abu Sama Khan and Mohammed Latif) were assassinated by Rajan's hitmen.[37][38]

Arrests, convictions and verdict

Many hundreds of people were arrested and detained in the Indian courts. In 2006, 100 of 129 accused were found to be guilty and were convicted by Justice PD Kode of the specially designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court.[39] Many of those convicted have eluded custody, including the mastermind of the attacks, Tiger Memon.[40]

On 12 September 2006, the special TADA court convicted four members of the Memon family[40] on charges of conspiring and abetting acts of terror.[41] They face jail terms from five years to life imprisonment, that would be determined based on the severity of their crime.[40] Three other members of the Memon family were acquitted with the judge giving them the benefit of the doubt.[40]

Yakub Memon was charged for possession of unauthorised arms. After the bombings, family members of Tiger Memon, including Yakub, escaped to Dubai and Pakistan. Correspondents say Tiger owned a restaurant in Mumbai and was allegedly closely associated with Dawood Ibrahim, the suspected mastermind.[42]

Except for Tiger and Yakub, the entire family returned to India and were promptly arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in 1994. Yakub was later taken into custody and was undergoing treatment for depression. The Memon family was tried in court and found guilty of conspiracy. The defence lawyers asked for leniency in the sentencing and caused delays in the process.[42]

Yakub Memon was executed by hanging in Nagpur Central Jail at 6:35 a.m. IST on 30 July 2015.

Two of the accused, Mohammed Umar Khatlab and Badshah Khan (pseudonym given by the prosecution to hide his real identity) turned state approvers.[38]

Dawood Ibrahim, believed to have masterminded the terrorist attacks, is the Don of the Mumbai organised crime syndicate D-Company. He is suspected of having connections to terrorist elements[43] such as al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden,[44] as well as Lashkar-e-Toiba,[45] and was declared a terrorist by the governments of India and the United States in 2003. Ibrahim is now wanted by Interpol as a part of the worldwide terror syndicate of Osama bin Laden.[46] The Bush administration in the United States imposed sanctions on Ibrahim in 2006.[47]

The penalty stage of the longest-running trial in India's history continued. In February 2007, prosecutors asked for the death penalty for 44 of the 100 convicted. The prosecution also requested the death penalty for those convicted of conspiracy in the case.[48] Asghar Yusuf Mukadam and Shahnawaz Qureshi, who have been found guilty for involvement in the bombings pleaded for leniency, claiming that they were not terrorists and were emotionally driven to participate in the act. Mukadam claimed that the main conspirators took advantage of his "frame of mind" after the demolition of Babri Masjid and the subsequent riots, alleging police partiality during the riots. "Vested interests" instigated him to act as he did. Quareshi was trained in Pakistan to handle arms and ammunition. He and Muquddam parked the explosive-filled vehicle at Plaza cinema which resulted in 10 deaths and 37 injuries.[49] Qureshi reached Pakistan via Dubai, where he claims he was taken "under the pretext of providing ... an alternative job". He claims that his house was set on fire during the riots.[50]

Some of the conspirators who managed to flee India after the bombings were arrested and extradited to India. These conspirators were declared absconders during the course of the trial. Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Firoz Khan, Taher Merchant, Riyaz Siddiqui, Karimullah Khan, and Abdul Kayoum[51] amongst others were arrested and the trial continued against these absconders in a special TADA court in Mumbai. Ujjwal Nikam who was earlier the Special Prosecutor in these case was replaced by Deepak Salvi to continue with the trial in the light of the subsequent developments.[51] On 16 June 2017 gangster Mustafa Dossa and Firoz Khan were found guilty of conspiracy, which can carry the death penalty. On 26 June 2017 Dossa died of cardiac arrest in a Mumbai Hospital. Kayoom Sheikh was acquitted due to lack of evidence.[52]

The Memons

The bomb planters

The prosecution had sought the death sentence for all of the following except Imtiaz Ghavate. As he is HIV positive, the prosecution sought a lesser sentence for him.

In March 2013, most of these death sentences awarded by the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court were commuted to life in prison until death by the Supreme Court of India. Only the death sentence of Yakub Memon was upheld.[66]

Accused involved

Mohammed Moin Qureshi, Feroz Amani Malik, Bashir Khairulla, Zakir Hussain and Abdul Akhtar Khan had thrown hand grenades in Mahim Causeway causing 3 deaths and injuring 6. The driver, Salim Shaikh, did not throw any hand grenades.

Landing agents

Customs officials

Policemen

Other co-conspirators

Popular culture

See also

References

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