As I look back on the serial bomb blasts of 12 March 1993 and the exhaustive trial that followed leading up to the conviction of the main accused, the primary sense I get is that full justice has not yet been done to the victims of those nefarious attacks against the state. I say that because the main culprits and the prime accused, including Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Tiger Memon, are still at large. Worse, though our intelligence and security agencies know for sure that they are hiding in Pakistan, the neighbouring country is in a denial mode.
The sense that full justice has been done will be established only when all those accused who are at large are brought to India and made to face the law. Having said that, I am optimistic about our government’s ability to bring back Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon, and the other accused who are at large and bring them to book. Efforts have been initiated in this regard and I am confident they will bear fruit one day. There are indications to this effect. Another positive thing is that the US has declared Dawood Ibrahim “a global terrorist" which strengthens India’s case to lay her hands on him.
I am often asked about the delay in delivering justice in this case. While I concede that full justice has been done, I have often clarified that it is not the trial that has taken 20 or 25 years. The attacks happened exactly 25 years back, but the trial took 12 years to reach its logical legal conclusion. Also, when we consider the Mumbai blasts case, we must factor in that this was one of the biggest and comprehensive trials ever conducted in India. Considering the epic scale of the trial, 12 years does not really look like a long time since the trial has succeeded in getting the convictions. It was not an easy task to build the trial, piece together the evidence and establish the conspiracy, and above all establish Pakistan’s active involvement in the conspiracy. That the prosecution was conducted very professionally and meticulously is evident from the conviction of an overwhelming number of the accused, that eventually was upheld by the highest court in India.
Another question I am often asked, probably because I have represented the state in a number of terror cases, including the 26/11 case and the German Bakery blast case, pertains to the fear of law among the terror-accused. I am asked if, over a period of years during which I have been prosecuting them, if I have experienced the fear of law among those convicted of carrying out terror attacks. My answer is a big “No".
It is true that terror attacks have occurred even after the 1993 blasts. But it would be unfair to say our society and the security and intelligence establishment have not learned any lessons. Especially after the terror strikes during 26-28 November 2008, there has been a significant upgrade in our preparation and physical infrastructure to prevent terror attacks. I also see that the society as a whole has emerged more united after 26/11 and it is not easy for terrorists to trigger social problems now. People by and large are more alert now. The security and intelligence apparatus have also succeeded in confining terror to the Kashmir valley only and I think that is a big success if we look at the whole terror problem in this context.
As a conscientious citizen, I think our society needs to do much more to prevent terror attacks, to foster patriotism, and defeat the very idea of terrorism. As a society, we have to stay united and stop discriminating on the basis of caste and creed. The minorities among us must not feel isolated and they must feel that they are safe staying here. Each citizen must feel he or she belongs to this great country, a sense that our armed forces deployed for us on the borders have, so that we build a society that is strong enough to defeat terrorism and protect itself.
Ujjwal Nikam is a celebrated lawyer and special public prosecutor who, apart from the 1993 Mumbai blasts case, has represented the state in a number of high-profile cases, the most recent being the Kopardi rape and murder case in Maharashtra.