Nine Years after the Local Train Blasts in Mumbai, There is Little Clarity on Who was Responsible for the Attack

11 July 2015
An Indian railway official works at an information desk as the families of those who died in the Mumbai bomb blasts on 11 July 2006 file compensation forms on 17 July 2006. The successive explosions on seven local trains claimed 187 lives immediately and rendered 824 injured.
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian railway official works at an information desk as the families of those who died in the Mumbai bomb blasts on 11 July 2006 file compensation forms on 17 July 2006. The successive explosions on seven local trains claimed 187 lives immediately and rendered 824 injured.
Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, on 7 July 2015, Parag Sawant, a thirty-six-year-old resident of Mumbai who had been comatose for nine years, succumbed to his injuries and passed away in Mumbai’s Hinduja hospital. Sawant became the 189th victim to be claimed by the serial train blasts in Mumbai that shook the city on 11 July 2006, when successive explosions on seven local trains claimed 187 lives immediately and rendered 824 injured.

It will be nine years since the blasts took place and more than nine months since the final arguments in the trial were concluded in August 2014. Yet, there is still no sign of when the judgement will be announced. Reports suggest that special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) judge, YD Shinde, could possibly deliver the judgement by either the end of July or August this year.

Between July and October 2006, the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Mumbai Police arrested 13 people in connection with the blasts. Most of the accused, were from the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned Islamic organisation that was formed in Uttar Pradesh in 1977. As per the ATS, in 2001, members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba—a terrorist organisation that is based in Pakistan—motivated one of the accused Faisal Shaikh,—to pursue arms and ammunition training in Pakistan. The ATS also alleged that in 2004, Shaikh, who had become an operative at the LeT, then allegedly sent four other people from among the accused persons—Shaikh’s brother Muzammil; Dr Tanvir Ansari; Zameer Shaikh; and Suhail Shaikh—for arms training in Pakistan via Iran.

These four men allegedly pretended to be Shia Muslims who were visiting Iran for a pilgrimage, but instead visited Pakistan from that route. In 2006, the ATS claimed, the accused persons who were being led by Faisal Shaikh, allegedly harboured four Pakistani citizens—Salim, Sohail Shaikh, Abdul Razak, and Abu Umed—who crossed the border and entered India illegally. Two people from this group, Salim and Umed were killed later. This group then allegedly constructed bombs in Mohammed Ali’s house, with Research Development Explosives (RDX), ammonium nitrate, nitrite and petroleum hydrocarbon oil. They then packed them in rexine bags that were placed in the first class compartments of several local trains at Churchgate station in South Mumbai on 11 July, 2006. Most of those accused in the case, and Faisal Shaikh—who had been deported from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, for not possessing travel documents in 2004— in particular, had been under the watch of Indian agencies for years before the blasts.

On 29 September 2006, nearly three months after the train blasts, A N Roy, the police commissioner of Mumbai at that time, made some startling revelations about the case at a packed press conference. During the conference, Roy declared that the bombs that had caused the explosions were planted in pressure cookers and placed across the first-class compartments of different local trains by members of the LeT. The police further claimed to have located the two shops that had sold the pressure cookers, seven of which, according to the police’s account had been packed with RDX and ammonium nitrate before being transported to Churchgate station.

Menaka Rao is a freelance journalist from Mumbai. She writes on law and health.

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