Tushar Deshmukh was 13 years old when his mother Priti dropped him at school and went home the usual route from Mahalaxmi to Dadar. The bomb at Century Bazaar blew up the bus in which she was travelling and her severed body arrived home the next day. Tushar is one of the many people who carry the scars of 1993, when 12 bombs ripped through Mumbai leaving 257 dead and 713 injured. It was the first time RDX was used on such a large scale since World War II. Twenty-four years later, people like Tushar and those who lost a family member in the mindless carnage or were permanently effected by it, physically or mentally, have received justice.
On Friday a special court held six accused, including Abu Salem, guilty of the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, acts of terrorism and death. The first part of the case resulted in convictions of 100 accused of which 12 were sentenced to death, life imprisonment for 20 and varying terms for the remaining 68. Of these Yakub Memon, who was part of the core team was hanged to death in 2015.
Twenty-four years have passed since the serial blasts rocked Mumbai and shook the nation. In the long interim period names were forgotten and the incident for most, seems somewhere in the past, but not for those who lost a family member or carry the scars and certainly not for the police officers who investigated the case and tired it in court. Their work has brought to book a group of criminals who conspired to murder innocent people and ruin the lives of Mumbaikars they had never seen or met. The verdict shows that those guilty of terrorist acts will be apprehended, brought to trial and convicted, no matter how long it takes.
India has taken several terrorist hits, but no city in the country has bled like Mumbai. In 2003, twin-car blasts near the Gateway of India claimed over 50 lives. In 2006, a series of blasts in trains during evening rush hour claimed 209 lives and left over 500 injured. Then in 2008, a team of well-armed terrorists hit Mumbai again killing 171 people. Of the 10, nine were killed by security forces while the lone survivor, Ajmal Kasab was tried, convicted and hanged. In all cases, those responsible were tried and convicted. The investigative and judicial system might seem slow and victims might question why they have to wait so long for closure, but in the end justice is done and is seen as done. The verdicts in all cases are a tribute to the police officers who painstakingly put together evidence and prosecutors who present it before the court. Their perseverance has served the country well.