Monday, November 14, 2005

So what next for Abu Salem

In 1993, I was in Class Seven in Delhi and the Bombay Bomb Blasts seemed half an universe away. There was no satellite TV, let alone 50 channels of live streaming information(?) piped into my house through an overtaxed coaxial cable. Stories that my school friends told me about Bombay made the city sound like one where shootouts happened all the time. And anyway we were still living in a glorious socialist dream imposed on us by the Congress, so any news of the matter came only in little bits and pieces.
After I joined this organisation I was talking to my Editor about life in Bombay and he narrated the incidents of March 12, 1993 a bit more. The ed was then based at Nariman Point (close to my current office) and he told me that when a nice large hole was put on the side of Air India building, no-body really had any clue what was going on. Another colleague told me that they felt that some building had collapsed, but later on when everybody realised what was going on there was a sense of chaos.
However, some people neglect another side-effect of the blasts. Until the blasts occured, the underworld, the political world and the filmi-world operated as a cosy coterie. The crackdown on the underworld actually began after the blasts. Sure, people like Salem got away extorting money from people for years on end and even getting his not-so-pretty mistress (later wife) Monica Bedi into the movies. There was the occasional murder here or there in the process.
Moving on to November 2005, Abu Salem should have been more scared of the media jamboree that seems to follow him rather then getting beaten up in a jail. But, I really wonder how much Abu Salem will sing, or will Abu Salem get bumped off?
While I think Abu Salem must be brought to justice, I really wonder if some politicians (all from the ruling party - how terribly unsurprising), former cricketers and movie-stars with a lot to lose don't somehow manage to get Abu Salem somehow bumped-off in jail. And while I think it might be strange to advocate giving a person like Salem Z-category security, Salem must talk, and he must expose those who supported him. And this number should include those in the media, because there are a lot of people, especially people who have been in this profession for some time now (like an old pan-chewing colleague of mine in the Birla paper) who have talked of their underworld contacts with pride and in certain cases even hidden criminals in their homes.
Kudos to the CBI for getting Salem back to India. Just like the Bombay Blasts provided the impetus for getting the underworld off Bombay streets, the capture of its mastermind should provide the impetus for getting the underworld out of our everyday lives.


4WD said...

why do you think that salem should be more afraid of the media jamboree? Anyway, it seems unlikely to me that he'll get bumped off. The CBI's got him. And anyway, who'll do the bumping? all the bumpy cops aren't in form :)

thalassa_mikra said...

K, a few points:

Everyone in politics dallies with criminals, not just the ruling party. And that includes our good ol' lefties (not the old school ones, but the opportunist types). Sena blesses its own set of dons, and if some reports are to be believed Bombay's resident paper tiger shares business interests with D.

Far be it from me to defend criminals and terrorists, but I think the media frenzy has forgotten the important fact that Salem is being charged for "abetting" the blasts, not planning and executing them. The main accused, Tiger Memon, remains at large, allegedly in Pakistan.

And the last thing politicians want is to bump him off. For proof, Babloo Shrivastava remains very much alive and apparently operates happily from prison. How hard is it for them to instruct CBI to go easy on him?

thalassa_mikra said...

In fact, to put things in perspective, there are nearly 200 accused in the 1993 bombings case and a majority are being charged as ammunition suppliers and couriers.

Many didn't know the ammunition was to be used for the bombings (poor fishermen and loaders), Salem and Dawood can be presumed to be better informed. I'm assuming that Salem's important in the bombings case simply because he used to be very close to the key accused and can be expected to spill the beans on them.

Also, his extradition was considerably helped by the TADA charges, I don't think Portugal would have bothered if it was merely a mafioso (however dreaded in his native land).

(Sorry for hogging the comment box :()

anthony said...

Terrorism for profit deserves a punishment no less than hanging from fish hook to dry in the sahara but its another story,
I was wondering over the front page pic of him in DNA today. What the hell was he grinning about? that funny grin!