Pune, April 18 (IANS) M. Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Takla, one of the convicts in the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts who was sentenced to death, died of a heart attack here on Wednesday, a police officer said.
Merchant, who was lodged in the Yerawada Central Jail, suffered a heart attack in the prison around 3 a.m. and was rushed to the Sassoon Hospital.
However, he failed to respond to the treatment and breathed his last around 3.45 a.m., said Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) B.K. Upadhyay.
On September 7, 2017, Merchant, 55, was sentenced to death by a Special TADA Court here for conspiring, facilitating and knowingly commissioning acts of terror leading to the March 1993 serial bomb explosions which rocked Mumbai.
But in December 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the sentence.
Despite his unassuming appearance, Merchant was a part of the ‘inner circle’ of confidantes of absconder mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Tiger Memon, the two prime accused in the serial bomb blasts.
Like the Memons family and other accused, he too fled the country shortly after the blasts but was caught in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
Soon after the blasts, a Mumbai court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.
Merchant had taken part in the blast conspiracy, hatched at Dawood’s homes in Dubai, along with Tiger Memon.
Besides, Merchant was found guilty of sending some of the accused to Pakistan to acquire training in handling weapons and explosives, according to the investigators.
On March 12, 1993, the country’s commercial capital was rocked by a series of 13 blasts in quick succession at various locations in the city and suburbs, creating the worst unprecedented mayhem in the country, killing 257 and injuring 700 others.
The prime targets included the Air India Building, Bombay Stock Exchange and Zaveri Bazar among others, leading to damage or destruction of public and private properties worth Rs 27 crore.