You see a trail laid to the accused for any high profile crime, blast or terrorist activity in Bombay over the past three decades, and you will almost always find leading Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian at the other end of it. She is a fixture in the civil and sessions courts of Bombay, and a formidable, go-to specialist at that. Why is she in the news, and how did she get here? Here’s a 5-point account on her story:


1. Before She “Toughened” up:

Before she came to Bombay to explore her inherent legal expertise, she used to be a skilled painter from Mangalore and may well have gone down that road to meet success as an artist. However, she shifted base around 1982 and joined the legal profession as a public prosecutor.


2. Cases To Her Credit:

When the trials for the 1992 J J Hospital shootout were called to order, Salian was the public prosecutor, well aware that she was rubbing the wrong way the man who ruled the Bombay underworld: gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s, as his close aide Subhash Thakur was the prime accused and Salian effected a death sentence on him.

The 7/11 Local Train blasts of 2006, possibly the biggest terrorist strike upon Bombay, was also given to the successful prosecutor.  She had another brush with the No. 1 fugitive don’s network, this time Ibrahim’s brother Iqbal Kaskar when she was entrusted with the Sara-Sahara shopping complex case. Some other cases she was put on include the Borivali double murders and diamond merchant and film financier Bharat Shah’s case.


3. Quitting and Starting Over:

There came a point in her career when she was flustered with the state-of-affairs and wanted to quit. However, late Hemant Karkare, then ATS chief, supposedly coerced her to stick around, and said she was needed on the 2008 Malegaon blast case as special public prosecutor- which was perpetrated against Muslims during Ramazan allegedly by Hindu Extremists, which killed four- all Muslims.


4. Salian On The Malegaon Trail:

She has been on the case since 2008, and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur who is the prime accused saw an rejected bail plea thanks to her. However, she realized she was up against a rather crushing force, when she a special MCOCA court ruled that the Act excludes the “Hindu extremist” organisation. She moved high court after this development, and yet again, as recently as yesterday, she has found that prosecution of the guilty shall be difficult because they are backed by a massive cult, an ideology almost.

Allegedly, the National Investigation Agency has asked her “to go soft” in her probes, since the new NDA government was instated last year, she admitted in a statement yesterday. The NIA, however, denies charges of corrupt practices and claims they intended to take her off the case, which is why she is acting out. This controversy is still playing out. 


5. ‘You are a woman but you have no heart’

At 68, Salian has shown no signs of lethargy . A lawyer-colleague of hers told Indian Express, “Once an accused told her, ‘You are a woman but you have no heart’. She retorted immediately, ‘Who said I am a woman?’ In court, she told him, ‘I am a lawyer first. I leave my womanhood at home’”


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