Mumbai blasts, justice met partially

Mumbai blasts, justice met partially

The conviction of gangster Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa and four others by a special TADA court for their role in the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai marks a partial closure of one of India’s worst cases of terrorism. The first part of the trial concluded in 2007 and 100 persons were convicted and 23 others acquitted. There were 189 accused in the case and after the convictions and some acquittals in two instalments, many more suspects are yet to be brought before the law. Some of them are big fish like Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel who planned and executed the blasts. They are believed to be in Pakistan or the Gulf, after escaping from India, and it is doubtful whether they will ever be made to pay for their actions. That is why the ends of justice can be said to have been only partially met in the case.


It is again a poor comment on the system of justice that it took almost a quarter century for the case to reach the closure stage, still leaving a good part of it undecided. The 12 serial blasts took lives of 257 people and left many hundreds injured, and it is a poor consolation for those left behind that some accused people have been punished. This is not an isolated case but the norm, and every time a judgement is made after many years or decades, the delay is noted and commented on. It is the inability of the system to dispense right and prompt justice that has led to the feeling among some sections of people that summary punishment outside the framework of law is right and necessary. This feeling is growing in strength in the country and it encourages people, and the law enforcement authorities, to take the law into their own hands.

The 1993 Mumbai blasts were important in many ways. They marked the first organised terrorist action on a major scale in India and they have had an influence on communal relations and politics since then. They were a reaction to the demolition of the Babri masjid in 1992, and an action and reaction psychology took roots after them, strengthening fundamentalist ideologies and divisive politics and creating new groups of radicals and terrorists. No major lessons were learnt by the police from the case for investigation of future cases. Many of the recommendations of the Justice Srikrishna Commission which probed the riots were not implemented. The political, social and security issues involved in the blasts and their handling need to be gone into in greater detail in these more difficult times. 
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