Abu Salem has been sentenced to life in jail by a special court in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
A series of 12 bomb explosions took place in Mumbai (then named Bombay) on 12 March 1993. The attacks were reportedly carried out as response to Hindu-Muslim riots took place in the city in 1992. It was the first-of-its kind serial bomb blasts that took place across the world. The single-day attacks resulted in 257 fatalities and 717 injuries. Thirteen blasts were announced by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Sharad Pawar was asked to prevent the events from taking on a communal hue.
The attacks were coordinated by Dawood Ibrahim, the don of the Mumbai-based international organized crime syndicate named D-Company. Ibrahim is believed coordinated the bombings through his subordinates Tiger Memon and Yakub Memon.
The targeted locations of these blasts included the Air India Building, Bombay Stock Exchange, Zaveri Bazar, then existing five-star hotels, Hotel SeaRock and Hotel Juhu Centaur, and others. This resulted in widescale damage of public and private properties.
Abu Salem is a gangster originally from Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, India. He started out as a manual laborer before joining organized criminal syndicate, the D-Company. He was involved in several murder, extortion and other cases. He has been accused of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai, and was arrested in Portugal in 2002. He has also been held responsible of giving weapons to actor Sanjay Dutt. The actor was accused in the case over the illegal possession of an AK-56 rifle, 250 bullets and some hand grenades at his residence on January 16, 1993.
On 16 June 2017, Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa, the key accused in the case, were convicted.
The court also convicted Mohammed Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Takla, Karimullah Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui and Feroze Abdul Rashid Khan. Abdul Qayyum was acquitted in the case. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005 and Dossa was extradited from the UAE.
On September 7, 2017, a special court handed Salem a sentence of life in jail. Two other convicts Tahir Merchant and Feroz Khan have been sentenced to death. Additionally, Karimullah Khan, has also been sentenced to a life term.
DN Salvi, CBI Special Counsel has said that the power to commute Salem’s sentence is with the government. Salvi has said that Salem’s life sentence will be converted to 25 years in prison only if the government commutes it. YC Pawar, former Joint Commissioner echoed similar sentiments noting, “The court has given a life sentence to Abu Salem. But the ball is in the court of the government of India.”
Our assessment is that Salem’s conviction brings about some closure to one of the deadliest terror attacks to have ever occurred in India.