Deposing before sessions judge M L Tahilyani, Arif Lakdawala said the money was then passed on to the alleged killers on the same day in pursuance of the alleged conspiracy.
The witness told public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam that he had gone to suburban Juhu on June 27, 1997 along with his builder friend Keki Balsara to collect money on behalf of Abu Salem. Two persons arrived in a Tata Estate car and handed over the money in two bags to the duo.
The witness said the two persons who had brought the money were music composer Nadeem Akhtar Saifee and Ramesh Taurani.
Asked if he could identify both, the witness said Nadeem was not before the court while Taurani was sitting with the other accused. He pointed at Taurani and the latter stood up for identification.
Narrating the sequence of events, the witness said after handing over the money to them, Nadeem and Taurani had a telephonic conversation with Abu Salem on the former's mobile phone.
He heard Nadeem telling Abu Salem, "Bhaijaan abhi Gulshan ka kaam jaldi kar do" (Brother, now complete the job of Gulshan soon).
Even Taurani told Abu Salem, "Bhai abhi to paise de diye hain, Gulshan ka kaam jaldi kar do" (Brother, now money has been paid up, finish the work of Gulshan).
In a related development, defence lawyer Aban Ponda filed an application urging that this witness be treated as an accused because he had actively participated in the conspiracy.
Earlier, the witness identified two of the three accused who had accepted the alleged contract money given by him and Balsara. However, he could not identify the third one and wrongly pointed out at co-accused Shabir Ali.
The witness told prosecutor Nikam that after collecting the money from Nadeem and Taurani they departed for their homes. Abu Salem contacted them on the same day to give further instructions for depositing the money with his men.
As per Abu Salem's instructions, the witness said he and Balsara went to Nagpada and waited in their car outside a hotel. Three persons approached them and asked for Abu Salem's money. They also showed a slip bearing Balsara's car registration number.
The two bags containing the money were handed over to the trio who dispersed after collecting the amount, the witness told the court.
Asked about his association with Abu Salem, the witness said the former was his close friend and used to visit his petrol pump in the early nineties.
After the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts, Abu Salem had shifted his base to Dubai.
On three occasions thereafter, Lakdawala visited Dubai for business purposes and met Abu Salem, the court was told.
All the accused were present in the court. A strong posse of policemen was posted outside the court.
Investigating officer Arun Bagadi is handling the case.
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