Nine years after a series of blasts in local trains left 188 people dead and shook up the city, a Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Friday convicted 12 of the 13 accused in the case.
188 people had died after seven RDX bombs exploded in the first class coaches of seven local trains on July 11, 2006. File pic
The accused were convicted under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Railways Act of 1989, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act of 1984, Explosives Act of 1884, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, MCOCA and the Explosive Substances Act.
Only Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh, who was accused of providing his house at Mumbra for harbouring Pakistanis, was acquitted by the court. Arguments on the quantum of the sentence will take place on Monday.
When the conviction was being announced amid high security, the media was not allowed inside the court and only advocates connected to the case, the 13 accused, and police officials were present. The accused were brought to the court around 11:45 am. The pronouncement of the judgment began at 12:05 pm and ended around 12:30 pm.
According to an advocate present inside the court, the accused had been hopeful before the judgment was pronounced and all but one of them looked crestfallen later. None of the 12 convicts, however, broke down. After the judgment was pronounced, the Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare told the court that he will ask for serious punishment for the convicts.
The court then asked the advocates whether they wanted to argue on the quantum of the sentence yesterday itself or on Monday, and most of the defence lawyers said they would prefer the latter. The court then decided that it will begin hearing the arguments on Monday and the convicts were then taken into custody.
188 people had died and 829 people were injured after seven RDX bombs had exploded in the first class coaches of seven local trains on July 11, 2006. The blasts occurred in five minutes, beginning 6.23 pm, and the bombs began to go off post-Matunga Road station towards the Virar end.
Three of the blasts took place between Bandra-Khar Road (over Khar Subway), Mira Road-Bhayander and the Matunga Road-Mahim stations. Three others took place when trains were leaving Mahim, Jogeshwari and Borivli stations.
Another blast rocked a train while it was entering Bandra station. All of the bombs were triggered during peak hours for Mumbai’s suburban network, when most officegoers return home, for maximum damage.
Probe and trial
Initially, the investigation was started by the police from respective jurisdictions, but the cases were then clubbed and handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). Between July 20 and October 3, 2006, the ATS of the Maharashtra Police arrested 13 people and claimed to have cracked the case.
The chargesheet in the case was filed on November 30, 2006. The ATS submitted a common chargesheet running into 10,667 pages. The trial started in December 2007 and, in the eight years that followed, the prosecution examined 192 witnesses — including commuters who were on the ill-fated trains and eight IPS officers.
The defence called 51 witnesses and there was one court witness. In its final arguments, the prosecution said that the bombs were kept in pressure cookers even though there was no mention of this in the chargesheet. Intitially, the prosecution in the case had mainly relied on confession statements to prove the involvement of each of the accused.
Later, it was alleged that the confessions were taken forcefully and, hence, would be inadmissible. The trial also saw many hurdles, with a major one being the Supreme Court stay in February 2008, when one of the accused, Kamal Ansari, had said that ‘promoting insurgency’ in the definition of organised crime in MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) was unconstitutional. The petition was dismissed by the Apex Court in 2010 and the stay was lifted.
‘My brother was always hopeful about getting out’
The brother of the accused Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh, who was acquitted by the court yesterday, spoke to mid-day from outside the courtroom after the acquittal.
“One day the police called my brother and so he went, but he never came back after that. The police came to our place at Ghatkopar and told us that he had been arrested for his involvement in the 11/7 blasts. Our family was completely shattered at that time.
We did many rounds of the police station, but nothing worked out. My brother was always hopeful about getting out one day and so were we. And I think Allah has heard our players.”
‘Will study Yakub judgment’
Speaking to mid-day, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare said, “The court has accepted the criminal conspiracy hatched by the 12 convicted accused. The main evidence in the case was related to the accused meeting in Bandra at the residence of Faisal and assembling at Mohammad Ali’s place in Govandi, where the bombs were made.”
When he was asked what punishment he was going to argue for, Thakare said, “I have notes of a few judgments. Yakub Memon’s judgment is among them and I will go through that as well. As far as terror cases are concerned, the death sentence can be retained. It is my responsibility to the public as a prosecutor.
11 July 2006
Seven trains in Mumbai are rocked by a series of powerful blasts, in which 188 people are killed and 829 others are injured.
20 July 2006
The ATS gets first breakthrough in the case with the arrest of Kamal Ahamed Mohammed Vakil Ansari, hailing from Madhubani in Bihar, who was trained in Pakistan. He played a key role in procuring explosives from across the border and helped the module in trafficking of Pakistanis via Nepal border. He planted the bomb that exploded between the Matunga Road and Mahim stations.
23 July 2006
Following the arrest, the cops get to know about two other accused, the conspirator Dr Tanvir Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Ansari and another planter, Mohammed Faisal Ataur Rahman Shaikh and they too were picked up in connection with the blast.
12 Aug 2006
The ATS nabs another planter, Ehtesham Kutubuddin Siddiqui, who had done recces of the local trains for the group. He had planted the bomb that exploded near Jogeshwari station.
29 Sept 2006
ATS arrests Mohammad Majid Mohammad Shafi for trafficking Pakistanis to India and back to Bangladesh afer the blasts; Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Shaikh, who had provided his house in Govandi to the accused where the explosives were assembled; Mohammed Sajid Margub Ansari, who made electric circuits for the bomb; and Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh, who provided his Mumbra house for sheltering Pakistanis. Wahid is the only accused who has been discharged from the case.
30 Sept 2006
The other conspirators, Muzammil Ataur Rahman Shaikh, Soheil Mehmood Shaikh, Zamir Ahmed Latuir Rehman Shaikh and the planter Naveed Hussain Khan Rasheed Hussain Khan, who had planted the bomb that exploded near Khar subway, are picked up by the ATS.
03 Oct 2006
The ATS arrests Asif Khan, who had planted the bomb that exploded near Borivli station.
Advocate Shahid Azmi, who defended some of the accused in 11/7 case, shot dead in his central Mumbai office by Chhota Rajan gangsters.
Stay on trial vacated, examination of witnesses resumes
Yasin Bhatkal, co-founder of IM, arrested at Indo-Nepal border. Yasin claims the 2006 bombings were done by IM in retaliation to the 2002 riots, raising questions about arrest of 13 accused by ATS
11/7 trial concludes. Over a year later, 12 out of the 13 accused arrested in the case are convicted.