“Why are people talking only about Sanjay Dutt?” asks Vinayak Devrukhkar, who lost his sister and brother in the Century Bazar blast, one of the 12 explosions that rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993. “Dutt had a gun and a rifle. How can people say he is innocent? Is that the main issue? And everyone is saying how much money the industry will lose and discussing the fate of his films. I find this so difficult to understand. We lost people in those blasts, but does anyone care?”
Devrukhkar, now 34, works for a private company. He is anguished by the memory of his siblings who were killed while waiting at a bus stop near their house. He is disappointed that though the verdict took so long in coming, almost 20 years, the real culprits are still at large. There have been so many blasts in the country since 1993, but no one gets punished. “People know that nothing will happen and the case will drag on. They feel they can get away with anything.
“Even if Yakub Memon has got death sentence, his brother has not been found. When such serious incidents happen, the government should conduct speedy trial and dispose of the case quickly. That will set an example to the others and act as a deterrent.” He is happy that some punishment has been handed down to the perpetrators. Survivors have had to deal with lifelong injuries and loss of livelihoods.
For Ujjwal Nikam, who was a special public prosecutor and prominent figure during the trial at the designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (prevention) Act (TADA) court in the Arthur Road jail, the Supreme Court order has far-reaching dimensions and consequences. The confirmation of the death sentence for Yakub Memon sends a strong message across the border that terrorism will not go unpunished in this country, Mr. Nikam says. More crucially, the judicial process in the 1993 blasts trial exposed for the first time how Pakistan was exporting terror and how the perpetrators of the blasts were trained in that country. This was a revelation for everyone, he says.
In addition, the conviction of Sanjay Dutt will reinforce the faith the common man has in the judiciary. Bollywood stars could not indulge in nefarious activities. It is a strong signal to the film world that they will have to face the music if they do something wrong. It shows that the law has scant regard for the social status of a criminal, he says.
Meanwhile, Sanjay Dutt’s house had been besieged by the media and fans since morning. The actor had tweeted last that “It’s late in the night. Have an early morning shoot for Policegiri . Good night and big Jaadu ki jhappi to all my lovely fans.”