15 years on, wounds of Mumbai blasts fester


Mumbai : The scars of the terrible Mumbai blasts still hurt — even after 15 long years.

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Several victims of the serial bombings – until then the world’s worst urban terror attack – and families of the accused and even those convicted are suffering in the absence of rehabilitation and government aid.

Powerful blasts rocked the country’s commercial capital March 12, 1993 when 13 improvised explosive devices fitted into cars and scooters went off in the city in a string of premeditated strikes.

The explosions killed at least 257 people, injured several hundreds and caused widespread damage to property.

The authorities say the conspiracy to target Mumbai was hatched by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon to avenge the razing of the Barbri Masjid in Ayodhya Dec 6, 1992 and the riots that followed.

The Devrukhakar family still grieves the loss of two of their adolescent members.

Vinayak Devrukhakar, 30, lost his two siblings outside the Regional Passport Office.

Shashikala (19) and her brother Vasant (11) were waiting for a bus when a car bomb exploded. A kilometre away, their father Chandrakanth heard the blast and rushed home to realise that his children were missing.

Vinayak, who was in his teens, remembers seeing his sister’s charred body and his brother’s mutilated torso.

“Even after 15 years, Mumbai is still vulnerable to such terror attacks,” the man told IANS.

Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria, who spearheaded the investigation into the blasts, told IANS: “It was the most difficult and tiring investigation as the number of accused and the number of dead were humungous.”

Maria added that if the police had not found an abandoned vehicle laden with arms and ammunitions near the Worli passport office in central Mumbai, it would have been impossible to break open the case.

A special court has convicted nearly 100 accused. Twelve accused, including underworld don Yaqub Memon, the brother of Tiger Memon, were sentenced to death. Twenty-four accused received life terms.

The death row convicts have appealed. In the meantime, their families bear the brunt of the verdict.

Farida Sayyed, wife of one of the accused, lives in a 250-square feet shanty with her four children. Her husband, Abdul Rehman Sayyed, was sentenced to seven years in jail last year.

A mother of four, Farida begs outside the Mahim dargah in western Mumbai and earns Rs.200-300 a week.

To add to her woes, Farida was recently diagnosed with a heart ailment and her eldest daughter Farha is mentally challenged.