Pictures: Daijiworld News Network - Mumbai [Rons Bantwal]
Mumbai, Sep 12: Thirteen years after serial blasts killed 257 people in Mumbai, a Tada court on Tuesday finally pronounced its first verdict convicting three brothers and sister-in-law of prime accused Tiger Memon, who himself is absconding.
Three other members of the Memon family, including his mother, another brother and another sister-in-law were let off by Judge P D Kode who gave them benefit of doubt.
Arguements on the quantum of sentence will be heard by the court on Wednesday. The convicts could face imprisonment from five years to life and even death penalty, according to legal experts.
The entire area around the designated TADA court, located within Arthur Road jail premises, resembled a fortress as a large posse of security personnel were stationed outside since yesterday ahead of the verdict.
Ibrahim Mushtaq alias Tiger Memon's brothers Yakub, Essa, Yusuf and sister-in-law Rubina were found guilty of conspiracy for 13 serial blasts that rocked Mumbai on March 12 1993 which left 257 people dead and 713 injured.
Tiger Memon's brother Suleiman, mother Hanifa and and sister-in-law Rahin were acquitted by Judge P D Kode, who would be delivering the verdict in batches as a larger number -- 123 -- people, including actor Sanjay Dutt, are accused in the case.
Tiger Memon's father Abdul Razzak was also an accused but the case against him had been abated after his demise during the course of the trial.
Ninetyfour accused on bail, including Sanjay Dutt, were exempted from appearance while Rubina Memon, who was found guilty, was given time to surrender until further orders on compassionate ground as court accepted her plea that she had small children to look after.
The court said that it would summon the accused on bail as and when it was necessary for the purpose of delivering verdict.
Soon after the judge announced the verdict an angry Yakub Memon, a Chartered Accountant by profession, shouted expletives and said his family did not want any lawyer to argue on their behalf for the quantum of sentence.
"We have seen that for the last thirteen years innocent people have been labelled terrorists. We do not need anyone to protect us," an enraged Yakub said.
Later he moved to the dock where the other accused were sitting and his brothers were seen consoling him.
The blasts were masterminded by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim with the help of his lieutenants Tiger Memon and Mohammed Dossa, allegedly at the instance of Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, to avenge demolition of disputed Babri Masjid, the CBI had claimed in the chargesheet.
Dawood, Memon and Dossa are absconding accused in the list of 29. While Dawood was already abroad when the blasts occurred, Memon and Dossa fled a day before.
Memons had allowed the use of their garages to load RDX into the vehicles used for bombing thirteen crucial points in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.
Tiger Memon and his brother Yakub also arranged payment to two other members of the Menon family in NRI account in Hongkong Bank, Bandra branch, putting in the names of Ayub Memon, Rubina and Shabana Memon and Reshma Memon.
The Memons had fled to Dubai between March 12 and 13 which indicated that they had previous knowledge of the conspiracy.
The Memon family, except Tiger and brother Ayub, returned to Mumbai in 1994 and were arrested by the CBI.
The judge found Yakub guilty of conspiracy and financing the serial blasts through co-accused Mulchand Shah and the firm M/s Tejarat International owned by his brother Ayub Memon (absconding).
Yakub was also convicted for with providing tickets to the co-accused to travel to Pakistan for training in arms and ammunition. He was found guilty of possessing arms and ammunition and distributing them among co-accused besides purchasing vehicles that were used in the explosion.
Essa was found guilty of conspiracy and allowing use of his flat at Al-Husseni building in Mahim for meetings to plan the blasts and storing arms, ammunition and explosives. Yusuf and Rubina were also convicted on similar charges.
The CBI had named 199 persons as accused in the chargesheet filed in 1993 of which 94 are on bail and 29 in jail. Trial of three accused -- Abu Salem, Riyaz Siddiqui and Mustafa Dossa -- has been separated as they were arrested much later.
Eleven accused died during trial while one, Riyaz Khatri jumped bail and two others -- Samajwadi Party MP Abu Asim Azmi and Amjad Mehr Baksh -- were discharged by the Supreme Court.
Twenty nine accused were discharged by the apex Court earlier.
The trial commenced on June 30, 1995 and 13,000 pages of evidence was recorded during a period of six years with CBI examining 686 witnesses including two approvers who unfolded the conspiracy.
As part of the conspiracy, hand grenades were hurled at a Hindu colony in Mahim, triggering riots in the city in which several motor vehicles, shops and houses were damaged.
Hand grenades were also hurled at the airport but no damage was caused, while RDX-stuffed scooters that had failed to explode were seized from Naigaon and Dhanji Street.
The explosions occurred between 1:30 p.m. and 3:40 p.m. on a black Friday sending, shockwaves among the people across the country.
The CBI has said that a well-planned conspiracy was hatched by Dawood, Memon and Dossa in 1992 that resulted in landing of arms and RDX at Shekadhi in Raigad district on January seven, 1993 and February two, 1993.
Another consignment of arms landed at Dighi coast in Raigad district, near here, on January 9, 1993, and this was handled by Mohammed Dossa.