Mumbai trains serial blasts probe reveals Pakistani link

By Quaid Najmi, IANS,

Mumbai : Investigators piecing together clues of the July 11, 2006 Mumbai train bombings that killed over 200 people have succeeded in identifying the bomb planters on five of the seven trains with each group comprising at least one Pakistani.

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The terrorists involved in bombing the remaining two trains remain a mystery as trial in the case restarts Monday.

The mastermind behind the Mumbai train blasts is said to be Azam Cheema, alias Babaji, the Lashkar-e-Taiba commander who is also believed to be active for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), investigating sources have revealed.

Based in Bahawalpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (POK), Cheema is said to have started the planning for the Mumbai terror operations a few years before 2006 and had even trained some of the key players for the purpose, the sources told IANS.

The trial beginning Monday will be presided over by Special Judge Y.D. Shinde of the MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Special Court. Though the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) has painstakingly pieced together the entire modus operandi and the conspiracy behind the 7/11 train blasts, the key conspirators continue to be at large.

A total of 13 are now facing trial in the case. They are: Kamal Ahmed Mohammed Vakil Ansari, Dr Tanveer Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Ansari, Mohammed Faisal Ataur Rehman Shaikh, Ehtesham Kutubuddin Siddiqui, Mohammed Majid Mohammed Shafi, Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Shaikh, Mohammed Sajid Marqub Ansari, Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh, Muzzammil Ataur Rehman Shaikh, Suhail Mehmoob Shaikh, Zameer Ahmed Latifur Rehman Shaikh, Naveed Hussain Khan, Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias Junaid alias Abdullah.

The entire terror operation was executed meticulously with precision timing with all the bombs being planted in different trains bound for the northern suburbs from the Churchgate station.

Around 20 kg of RDX, procured by one Eshamulah, and ammonium nitrate which was locally procured, were used in the blast.

The explosives were assembled in five-litre pressure cookers fitted with quartz timers at the Chembur (north-east Mumbai) residence of one of the accused, Mohammed Ali, and then taken to Faisal’s home in Mira Road, Thane district.

After they were planted in various suburban trains during the evening hours, they were triggered off within a matter of less than 15 minutes.

The Matunga train blast was the handiwork of Hafizullah, Salim, Aslam, Kamal Ansari, while the Khar train explosion was executed by Abu Osama and Naved.

According to the investigators, the Jogeshwari train blast was executed by Faisal Shaikh and Abu Baker – the LeT’s western India operative.

Similarly, the Borivli blast was carried out by Shabbir and Junaid while the Mira Road blast was executed by Ehtesham Siddiqui and Amu Jaan.

For each blast, the pair or groups comprised at least one Pakistani along with Indians.

However, it is still not clear who planted the bombs which exploded in two other trains at Mahim and Bandra.

The two prime Indian conspirators and executors of the train blasts are Shaikh (who carried out the Jogeshwari blast), a resident of Mira Road, state SIMI general secretary Siddiqui (who executed the Mira Road blast), and Kamaluddin Ansari who was nabbed from Madhubani, Bihar.

The other wanted accused in the case, according to the investigators, are: Rizwan Davare (from Pune, now hiding in Gulf, who is believed to be the main financier for the operation); Mohammed Rahil A. Shaikh (brother of prime accused Faisal Shaikh) who is living in Birmingham in the UK; Abdul Razzak, Indian from Hyderabad, now hiding in Pakistan; Sohail Shaikh of Pune, now hiding in Pakistan; and Hafez Zbubair of Madhubani, Bihar, now hiding in Nepal.

According to the investigators, the 11 Pakistanis conspirators reached Mumbai from different routes.

Two of them sneaked into India via Nepal three months prior to the blasts, with the help of Kamaluddin Ansari (of Bihar).

Five others managed to come here via Bangladesh and four came from the Gujarat border in western India.

Of the 11, Salim was killed in the Khar train blast and Mohammed Ali alias Abu Osama was killed in a shootout with the ATS at Antop Hill in north-east Mumbai later.

The other Pakistanis who are wanted absconders are: Azam Cheema alias Babaji (LeT commander), Aslam, Hafezullah, Sabir, Abu Baker, Kasam Ali, Amu Jaan, Ehsanullah, Abu Hassan, and Abdul Rehman who is based in Nepal.

The seven trains targeted in the July 11, 2006 bombing, the timing and the casualties:

6.23 p.m. – Mahim Junction, 641 Down Borivli Fast – Killed: 43, Injured 96.

6.23 p.m. – Bandra-Khar Road, 637 Down Borivli Fast – Killed: 22, Injured: 107.

6.23 p.m. – Mira Road-Bhayender, 607 Down Virar Fast – Killed: 31, Injured: 122.

6.24 p.m. – Matunga Road-Mahim Junction, 645 Down Virar Fast – Killed: 28, Injured 122.

6.24 p.m. – Jogeshwari Station, 619 Down Borivli Slow – Killed: 28, Injured: 115.

6.25 p.m. – Khar Subway, 635 Down Borivli Slow – Killed: 9, Injured 102.

6.28 p.m. – Borivli Station, 621 Down Virar Fast – Killed: 26, Injured 153.

Total Dead: 187

Total injured: Over 1,000 (two injured still in coma), officials said that another 20 injured succumbed later.

Railway property damaged: Rs.85.61 lakh.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])