Dawood Ibrahim Is Still Free: 1993 Blast Victims React to Verdict
1993 Mumbai blast survivors say justice won’t be served till Dawood Ibrahim faces trial.
A special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act court on Friday convicted six of the seven accused in connection with the 1993 Mumbai blasts which claimed 257 lives and left over 700 injured. Victims of the 12 coordinated explosions feel that although the court’s judgement is heartening as far as legal discourse is concerned, their justice will always remain incomplete until the main conspirator behind the explosions, Dawood Ibrahim, is extradited to India to be tried and sentenced appropriately.
In a few cases, survivors seemed to be unmoved by Friday’s verdict, stating that the trial, which took 24 years to see completion, is the perfect prototype of justice being delayed, and hence, denied.
“It’s just a formality, this show of justice,” says Vinayak Devrukhar, 38, a private firm employee who lost his two siblings - aged 11 and 19 - in the Century Bazaar blasts.
There were 24 intervening years before we can finally discuss justice. How does it matter now? What difference does it make? The perpetrators have lived their lives in full. They have been comfortable, running their crime syndicates from inside prisons. Our authorities took care of them in jails, paid for their lodging and boarding and food and travel. Who took care of us? Who took care of my parents when they were left with this inexpressible trauma of losing two children without a warning? No one. The government did not even come to us, not even to offer a shoulder to cry on. Where is justice?Vinayak Devrukhar
Tushar Deshmukh, a 37-year-old businessman, who lost his mother after a taxi ahead of her bus exploded when she was on her way to work in Dadar on the fateful day, however, feels that the verdict has built heart in him. He is now positive that some day, Dawood, the main conspirator will also be brought to India, and sent to the gallows.
Deshmukh, who uses his mother, Priti’s name for his middle name, had organised a signature campaign in favour of terrorist Yakub Memon’s hanging when several in the country were raising their voices against his execution. Memon was subsequently hanged in July, 2015.
If you bring a mother’s body before a child, the first thing he would want to do is see her face, touch her hands. But I did not have these luxuries either. She was one of those tens of charred bodies, dumped in an over-stuffed room at KEM hospital. Every remaining bit of her was covered with blood, her limbs torn apart, her face burnt beyond recognition. I was 13 years old when I saw my mother like that. Today is a day which will make her smile, but all of us will truly be at peace when Dawood is hanged.Tushar Deshmukh
Deshmukh lived up to his mother’s dreams for him and started a restaurant in her name.
Echoing Deshmukh’s thoughts, Kamla Malkani, now a 60-year-old, stated, “The main conspirator behind this carnage is Dawood Ibrahim. With the chief culprit still at large, there’s hardly any relief in getting hold of his sidekicks, and punishing them. What’s the point? What judgement are you talking about?”
Malkani, who used to run a beauty parlour in 1993 at Worli, got 13 stitches on her head after the explosion at Century Bazaar led to a glass sheet collapsing on her head. The pain still rife, Malkani had to live away from her home for two-and-a-half years before the damage caused by the explosion could be repaired. Her sister, Pushpa Bhavnani, who was visiting her that day, too was severely injured.
It’s too late, this justice. My sister (who died a few years ago because of natural causes) died without see this justice in her life-time, and there are so many others like her who have perished the same way. We were innocent people – honest, lawful citizens. We had done nothing to deserve that fate, to suffer it every day for the past 24 days, and for every day to come. I still get shivers when I think of that afternoon. All of us still live with that trauma – physical and mental. It comes alive every time we breathe.Kamla Malkani
Meanwhile, Naresh Saraf, now a 52-year-old man, appeared indifferent to Friday’s verdict.
My life was spoilt forever that day. I respect the court, the law, the judiciary, and I respect how they’ve brought perpetrators to justice, but it makes no difference in my life. I lost everything that day. A 28-year-old then, I was rendered handicapped for the rest of my life. I couldn’t find work, haven’t got married, and am running a handicapped person’s PCO. I can’t be bothered with justice. I only care about survival.Naresh Saraf
Saraf was in a Churchgate-bound local train when the explosion took place near Matunga railway station. His career as a hardware supplier was only taking off when the explosion claimed his future.
“And when I went to the government for compensation, to seek help, I wasn’t given any. Nobody cared I was a handicap, that I was forced to be one in the prime of my life. I had to file a petition in court, run around for three years before they finally granted me Rs 1.2 lakh. I’d spent that much on my lawyers already. So, you see, it doesn’t mean much to me now, this justice,” he added.
Kirti Ajmera, another survivor who still lives with hundreds of glass shreds etched all over his body, seconded Saraf’s opinion stating that justice is not just about punishing perpetrators, but also about rehabilitating victims.
Thrown several metres away after the blast at Bombay Stock Exchange, Ajmera has had to foot hospital bills running into lakhs of rupees for the 40 operations he has undergone so far. He still has a couple of surgeries to undergo. Yet, in all these years, he says, all his pleas before authorities for help have fallen on deaf ears.
“It’s time the government got proactive, and extradite Dawood from his Pakistani hideout. Get him, or these blasts, this despicable waste of innocent lives will never stop,” said Ajmera, now a 60-year-old.
(Puja Changoiwala is a journalist, and author of the critically-acclaimed true crime book, ‘The Front Page Murders.’)
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