The March 12, 1993 serial blasts shook Mumbai to its core ( Image Source : Getty Images )
Last Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the devastating March 12, 1993 serial blasts that shook Mumbai to its core. Despite Mumbai’s drastic transformation over the years, the tragic event remains firmly ingrained in the collective memory of its inhabitants. The blasts, which occurred at 12 different locations, claimed the lives of 257 people and left over 700 others with serious injuries. Many families affected by the tragedy continue to struggle to come to terms with their plight, including Kirti Ajmera, who survived the blasts but is now living a hellish existence.
Over the past three decades, Ajmera has undergone a staggering 40 surgeries, with glass fragments still surfacing on his body. On that fateful afternoon, as he was entering the Bombay Stock Exchange, a powerful bomb exploded, mutilating the right side of his body and almost severing his right hand from his body, which was barely attached by a thin tissue of muscles. Although his life was saved thanks to timely hospitalization, it was forever altered. Despite numerous surgeries, Ajmera remains unable to lead a normal life, struggling to sleep on his right side or use the right side of his body. Nevertheless, he displays a resilient attitude and is determined to dedicate the rest of his life to social work, fighting for appropriate compensation for blast victims.
During our meeting last Sunday, Ajmera shared his two demands with me. Firstly, he urged the government to cover the medical expenses of those seriously injured in the blasts, as the victims had been offered a mere 50,000 rupees, while families of the deceased were given two lakhs. According to Ajmera, he had spent lakhs of rupees on his treatment alone. He is fighting not only for himself but also for others like him. Although he has met with several politicians in power and in opposition, all of whom have promised to help, nothing concrete has materialized. Nevertheless, Ajmera is determined to persevere in his struggle.
Ajmera’s second demand is that Dawood Ibrahim, the mastermind behind the blasts, be brought to India and executed. While he acknowledges that Dawood’s hanging would make no difference in his own life, he believes it would provide a sense of closure for the families who have been enduring the pain for the past three decades. Although Indian intelligence agencies have made three attempts to eliminate Dawood in Karachi, he remains elusive. Chhota Rajan, his former gang member turned foe, was once tasked with tracking and killing Dawood, but he is now serving a life sentence in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Although Indian diplomatic efforts have successfully labelled Dawood Ibrahim an international terrorist and embarrassed Pakistan for harbouring him, he remains beyond the reach of Indian law enforcement agencies.
In the aftermath of the 1993 blasts, Mumbai continued to experience terrorist attacks, including the Mulund train blast (2003), twin blasts outside Mumbadevi and Gateway of India, serial blasts on western railway trains (2006), firing and bombings at multiple public locations (2008), and triple blasts in south Mumbai (2011). However, in terms of the number of deaths and injuries sustained, the 1993 serial blasts remain the biggest terrorist attack in India’s history. “People have made movies on the culprits and the cops, but nobody thought about looking into the life of people who have been suffering since last thirty years,” Ajmera complained.
(Bombayphile is published every Saturday where Jitendra Dixit writes about the past and the present of Mumbai.)
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