The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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What about the big fish, asks girl who saw it

Mumbai, Sept. 12: The serial explosions altered many lives forever and linked many others in two hours of madness.

Many like Deepika Mirchandani, 24, now a team leader in a multinational company, Ujjwal Nikam, 45, the tough-talking special public prosecutor, and Farhana Shah, 38, a soft-spoken defence lawyer, are now strung together by a common thread — the 1993 Bombay blasts.

Deepika, an 11-year-old schoolgirl on March 12, 1993, was waiting for her teacher at her first-floor flat at Malkani Mahal in Worli when a deafening blast on the main road knocked her off her feet. Glass and metal shards came flying at the girl and her grandmother Vinduri.

An RDX-laden car parked next to a bus stop had exploded in front of the flat. A Best bus was blown up and human body parts flew in all directions. At last count, 113 people were killed in that one explosion, which reduced Malkani Mahal and two other buildings to rubble.

Deepika remembers the blood-soaked floors of KEM hospital and still lives through the trauma.

Like most victims, the JP Morgan employee is angry that the prime accused (Dawood Ibrahim) continues to roam free. “I don’t believe in the judicial system. The main accused is still at large and gets his daughter married in full public view. How does the judicial system help the common man'” she asked before the first verdict was out.

Although some members of the Memon family have been convicted, many prime accused, including Dawood and his brothers, his associate Chhota Shakeel and narcotics smuggler Tiger Memon, are still at large.

Farhana Moledina was a promising law student completing her master’s when the trial began.

Defending a poor fisherman from Raigad, who loaded boxes of what he thought was waste material, as amicus curiae was Farhana’s first big legal assignment.

Now she’s Farhana Shah, wife of Dr Afzal Hussain Shah and a mother of two, who has 80 blast accused as her clients, including Sanjay Dutt.

Farhana was at Prince Alykhan Hospital to meet accused Ejaz Pathan when the 7/11 explosions shook Mumbai this year.

“I didn’t learn about the train blasts till I reached home. It brought back memories of March 12,” says Farhana, who had heard the Bombay Stock Exchange blast from Bombay High Court and saw blood-splattered people running for life.

Jalgaon-based Nikam is an old hand at arguing blasts cases and blames the defence for “delaying and derailing” the trial.

He had succeeded in getting life sentences for the five accused in the 1991 Kalyan train blast, masterminded by the Khalistan Commando Force, but the serial blasts turned out to be the highlight of the career of the country’s only lawyer who gets Z-category security.

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