Yakub Memon, one of the 1993 Mumbai bomb attack masterminds, had his death sentence upheld on Thursday by India’s Supreme Court, while the death penalty for 10 others was reduced to life in prison. Popular Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted of buying weapons from the bombers, was sent back to prison with his original six-year sentence reduced to five.
The terror attack that occurred on Mar. 12, 1993, was one of the deadliest in India’s history. It killed 257 people when 13 explosions ripped through India’s financial capital and rocked the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Air India Building, the headquarters of regional Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena and the Katha bazaar, among other key locations.
The blasts left more than 700 people injured and inflicted a loss of more than Rs 27 crore ($5 million) worth of property.
In upholding the death sentence of Memon, Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan said Memon and other members of his family had played a dominant role in the execution of the conspiracy, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported.
Memon, who was convicted of providing the explosives and weapons to the other convicts, has been in jail since he returned to India and surrendered in 1994.
While commuting the death sentence of the 10 other convicts, who planted the bombs, the court noted that their roles were merely subservient in the execution of the conspiracy and deserved life sentences.
The court also upheld life terms for 16 convicts who were sentenced by the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court.
The TADA court had convicted 100 out of 123 accused in the trial, which played out over 14 years. Twelve men, including Memon, were sent to the gallows while 20 were given the life sentence for their role in the blasts.
The court severely criticized Pakistan for training and arming the terrorists who were responsible for the blasts, the Times of India reported. The court said Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI was “singularly responsible” for training the accused and equipping them to cause the bomb blasts in Mumbai.
Sanjay Dutt, the son of a Hindu father and Muslim mother -- both of them renowned Bollywood actors -- was convicted in 2006 of buying weapons from bombers.
He has been out on bail since 2007 after spending 18 months in jail. He will have to spend another three years and six months in prison to complete his term.
However, he has the option to file a review petition before the Supreme Court.
Dutt had argued that the weapons were necessary in order to defend his family during the Hindu-Muslim riot of 1993, which had followed the destruction of the Babri mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya by Hindu fundamentalists.
The Mumbai blasts were an alleged retaliation executed by the city's Muslim-dominated underworld.