Abu Salem — the man who grew out of Dawood gang's shadow
Salem, a 1993 blasts case convict, rose up the ranks in Dawood Ibrahim's gang before making a mark on his own in the underworld.
A special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court on Friday held gangster Abu Salem guilty of being one of the main conspirators of the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts. The TADA court convicted him for transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai in the build-up to the blasts that killed 257 people and left 713 injured.
Salem is already serving a life-sentence in relation to various other cases.
Abu Salem was born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. He worked as a mechanic there before working as a taxi driver in Delhi.
Salem then moved to Mumbai and changed several jobs before settling as a real estate broker in the suburb of Andheri. In 1988, a case was lodged against him for assaulting a colleague.
By now, Salem had started partnering and working with people who were closely associated with gangster Dawood Ibrahim's 'D-Company'. He made his way into the gang and transported weapons and cash for them between 1989 and 1993. During one such assignment, he had transported weapons to Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt just before the 1993 blasts. He had earned the nickname "Abu Samaan" for his efficiency in doing that job.
1993 blasts and the aftermath
After the 1993 bomb blasts, Salem fled to Dubai to evade the police. He rose to prominence after he started recruiting young men from his home state to carry out shootings in Mumbai against D-gang's rivals.
During this time, he was entrusted with Dawood Ibrahim's movie deals. He also extorted money from movie producers. Salem came to spotlight again in 1997 over the killing of Bollywood producer Gulshan Kumar.
By 1998, Salem parted ways with the gang after he was sidelined due to internal fights, including rivalry with key Dawood gang member Chhota Shakeel.
Salem continued to plot and carry out kidnappings. His men have allegedly targeted various Bollywood personalities such as Aamir Khan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Rakesh Roshan and Manmohan Shetty.
He fled to Portugal and lived in Lisbon before he was arrested by the Portuguese police in 2002 after an Interpol tip off.
In 2004, he was extradited from Portugal on the assurance by the Indian government that a death penalty will not be handed out to him in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case.He has been convicted in over 50 cases till date.