Mumbai: The mammoth trial of the accused of the 1993 bomb blasts had concluded in February 2007 but Karimullah Khan, who was today sentenced to life imprisonment, remained elusive for over 14 years before being nabbed by police.
A police official recalling Khan’s arrest said in August 2008, the crime branch of the Mumbai Police got a tip off about him. The crime branch, then headed by Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria, was informed that Khan was living at Nalasopara since the last 2-3 years with his family members and working as a real estate agent by assuming a fake identity.
Khan had changed his looks to avoid identification. The official said Khan had left the country immediately after the 1993 blasts. He had allegedly stayed with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Clifton area of Pakistan’s Karachi till 2006, an official said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh on Khan. After getting the tip-off, for the first few days a crime branch team kept an eye on the activities of Khan, who had changed his name to Osan Khan, and found that he is in the business of selling and purchasing of property and letting flats on rent, the official said.
Inspector Pandharinath Vavhal, who was then attached to Chembur unit of the Crime branch, and Sub-Inspector Rutuja Nemlekar, posing as a couple approached Khan for a flat, he said.
The couple went to Khan’s office on August 20, 2008, at Nalasopara and told him that they wanted to meet the owner and pay a token amount for booking the flat.
As Khan got into their car, the team of the crime branch began following them in their vehicle.
When the car crossed some distance, he was told that he was arrested by the crime branch.
“Initially he was not accepting that he is Karimullah Khan. He was misleading police with his fake identity. He was consistently saying that he is Osan Khan,” the official said.
“As I remember he was not cooperating with the police in the beginning. But, after few tough questions, in the middle of the journey he accepted that he is Karimullah,” he said.
He had managed to procure a ration card, a PAN card and a driving licence by using his new identity, he added.
In crime branch custody he then joined all the dots of the bomb blast case, an official said.
During the interrogation, he had said he thought that 15 years after the blast no one would recognise him and he also wanted to see his children, who have grown up since he fled the country, the official said.
Khan, who was actually a close aide of Ejaz Pathan and landing agent of explosives like RDX and weapons, spent a long period with Dawood Ibrahim after fleeing the country, the official said.
In December 2006, he left Pakistan and went to Nepal from where he entered Uttar Pradesh.
Earlier, he resided in Cotton Green but after the blasts, his family moved to Mira Road and then to Nalasopara.
Khan was today sentenced to life imprisonment by the special TADA court in Mumbai for his role in the 1993 blasts case.