Mumbai : Gangster Firoze Abdul Rashid Khan alias Hamza, one of the prime accused in the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, has been arrested after being on the run for 17 years, a top police official said here Saturday.
Hamza, now 40, was an important mafia functionary and oversaw the landing and transportation of explosives used in the 13 blasts on March 12, 1993, which left 257 dead and over 700 injured.
Hamza, for whose arrest the government had offered a reward of Rs.200,000, was nabbed from his hideout in Koparkhairane suburb of Navi Mumbai Friday, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria told mediapersons here.
He was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investgiations (CBI) which handled the investigations in the March 1993 blasts and has been remanded in its custody till Feb 15 by a Mumbai court.
Maria said Hamza was a key associate of Mohammed Dossa and was entrusted with supervising the landing of explosives, RDX, timers, triggers, etc, in small fishing boats in the Dighi Port on the Konkan coast a few days before the serial blasts.
From there, he arranged for the transportation of the explosives to Mumbai for assembling and then planting them at the targeted locations.
Soon after the blasts, he had hidden some of the extra explosives in a house in Kurla, northeast Mumbai and discarded some in the Kandalgaon Creek on the outskirts of the city.
Five days after the serial blasts – at Air India building, Regional Passport Office, Bombay Stock Exchange building, Zaveri Bazaar, Shiv Sena Bhavan, Plaza Cinema, Hotel Centaur Airport, Hotel Centaur Juhu, Hotel SeaRock and other places – besides hand grenade attacks in 3 more locations, he managed to sneak off to Dubai.
After staying there for a few years, Hamza moved to Nepal on a Nepali passport and lived there under an assumed identify of Ferozuddin before returning to Dubai, going to Pakistan thrice, before returning to India around February 2004.
Besides Hamza, there are a little over two dozen persons who are absconding in the March 1993 blasts case, the trial of which was completed three years ago.
The prime accused still absconding include Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, the dreaded Tiger Memon – the blasts’ mastermind – his brother Ayub Memon, their wives and Mohammed Dossa.