Coincidence happens | Daily News
Islamic Terrorists ripped Bombay with 13 explosions on March 12, 1993, while authorities ignored prior warnings:

Coincidence happens

A series of explosions that rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993. File photo of the Gateway of India after the 1993 Mumbai Blasts.
A series of explosions that rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993. File photo of the Gateway of India after the 1993 Mumbai Blasts.

“Unkindness may defeat my life; but never changes my life” --Shakespeare

 


The series of suicide bomb attacks carried out by extremists on Easter Sunday, have dreadfully shaken the peace loving people around the globe. Twenty six years ago on March 12, 1993, the city of Mumbai [then Bombay] was rocked by 13 bomb blasts in different locations of the city, leaving 257 fatalities and over 500 injured and delivered a massive blow to Bombay’s psyche. Like in Easter Sunday mayhem in Sri Lanka, it was the largest coordinated terrorist attack executed in India, in terms of deaths. It was also the only terror attack in which the explosive RDX material was used. The carnage was also metropolitan India’s earliest exposure to terror.

Similarities with Easter Sunday catastrophe

Nine to 12 places were targeted within a few hours and three hotels blasted—biggest attack claimed up to 90 lives—prior warnings ignored.

At 1.30 pm on March 12, the first car bomb went off in the basement of the Bombay Stock Exchange building. The 28-story office building and surrounding structures were thoroughly damaged. About 50 were killed in this explosion. Over the next two hours and 10 minutes, till 3.40 pm, car bombs and scooter bombs went off at regular intervals at many locations in the city. They were: the Fisherman’s Colony in Mahim causeway, Zaveri Bazaar, Plaza Cinema, Century Bazaar, Katha Bazaar, Hotel Sea Rock, the Air India Building, Hotel Juhu Centaur, Worli and the Passport Office. Grenades were lobbed at Sahar Airport too.

Two hours and 10 minutes was all it took to knock the swagger out of Mumbai, between 1.30 am and 3.40 pm on a Friday afternoon. The city exploded into a nightmare. It woke up in bloodied distrust, chastened and charred.

The bombs exploded in quick succession bringing the iconic buildings to the ground, including the Stock Exchange. Air India building in the south, Sea Rock hotel at Land’s End in the west, Plaza cinema, the Century Bazar were left with yawning, blazing holes. The Hindu Shiv Sena party headquarters became an obvious target. The attacks were allegedly designed by Pakistan-based underworld boss, Dawood Ibrahim, a ‘most wanted’ man not only in India, but in the US and the Interpol. The three hotels were targeted with suitcase bombs left in rooms booked by the perpetrators. A double Decker bus was fully destroyed in one of the explosions. A single incident the biggest of them all claimed up to 90 lives.

Tiger Memon one of his most trusted associates, assisted Dawood in this act, who was believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan. The bombing operation was funded by Indian expatriate smugglers based out of the United Arab Emirates.

Indian defence authorities suspected the active involvement of an intelligence agency called Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of Pakistan in the blasts. They accused several terrorists receiving arms, ammunition and explosives and training in Pakistan bases. The conspirators thus managed to convince and brainwash disgruntled Muslim youths who would move to Dubai, and then to Pakistan to receive training, then return to India to execute the attacks. They were believed to have moved to Pakistan via Dubai, after nearly all men were recruited in Dubai.

Destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya

The December 6 destruction of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by right wing Hindu fanatics, caused widespread disturbances gripping Mumbai. There were claims of the police plotting and scheming with rioters in which some minority-inhabited areas came under severe attack. They had to amend their original plan to attack Bombay in April during the Shiv Jayanti celebrations but were compelled to advanced consequent to detention of one of the leaders on March 9, 1993, by the police. He was one of the key men handpicked by Tiger Memon to be dispatched to Pakistan via Dubai on February 19, 1993 for training and preparation in the art of bomb making and use of arms. Few Customs officials and five policemen were also held responsible for smuggling RDX into the city. While some of them had been bribed others derelict their duties.

Confession disregarded

Three days before the disaster took place on March 9, 1993, the small-time criminal confessed to his task in the riots, how he was trained in Pakistan, and most importantly that a conspiracy was underway to bomb vital locations around Bombay city, including Sahar International Airport, the Bombay Stock Exchange, and the Sena Bhavan. Unfortunately, his disclosure had been dismissed by the security authorities as ‘mere bluff’. A dereliction of sacred duty by the Indians, a tragedy that coincided with what happened within Sri Lanka’s intelligent apparatus.

Hundreds of suspects were arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Indian courts.

Arrests and convictions

The Indian Supreme Court passed its judgement on March 21, 2013 upholding the death sentence against the leader Yakub Memon following 20 years of judicial proceedings, while commuting the death sentences against nine others to life imprisonment. However, they failed to try some main perpetrators of the crime; in fact they have not yet been arrested. Yakub Memon was executed by hanging in Nagpur Central Jail at 6.35 am on July 30, 2015. Death sentence was imposed on few others too.

Films

Babu Janardhanan’s Malayalam film Bombay March 12 was based on the bombings and Indian crime film Black Friday (2004) written and directed by Anurag Kashyap, The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, based on a book by Hussain Zaidi both became box office records.

The catastrophe to which Bombay has so obstinately been exposed proved people’s spirit which is a proud possession.

It all happened on March 13, 1993; men in streets rushed to rescue and transferred the injured to hospitals in flagged-down vehicles. By the end of the day, blood banks were overflowing with voluntary donations. The next morning, people as usual were back at work in offices and factories after leaving the devastated structures intact. No one was waiting for official commands or interventions. It was amazing, and it was unique. This spirit of Nation would never manifest itself over our thrice blessed paradise whose work force barge in late to offices, share stories about the disaster, blame authorities under air-conditioned comfort and scoot off at the earliest opportunity?

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