2002-03 Mumbai triple blasts: The encounter that helped crack the case

A resourceful khabri had helped the Crime Branch get the first lead in the triple blasts investigation by leading them to three Pakistani terrorists

In March 2003, the Crime Branch officials received a tip-off through their informant about three Pakistani terrorists, who were supplying explosives to their Padgha-based module, headed by Saquib Nachan. They were told the terrorists were about to arrive near Goregaon’s Hub mall. The Pakistanis were identified as Abu Sultan, Abu Anwar Ali and Mohammed Iqbal Wani. The informant said the group had approached them to show a way to Padgha, since they were new to the city.

One of the three Pakistani terrorists killed in the encounter at Goregaon had helped assemble the bomb that exploded at Mumbai Central stationOne of the three Pakistani terrorists killed in the encounter at Goregaon had helped assemble the bomb that exploded at Mumbai Central station

Recollecting the encounter, inspector Pradeep Sharma said, “We had recovered two AK 56 and several hand grenades from them. One of the accused, who was killed in the encounter, was a bomb expert. He was instrumental in making the bombs that exploded at all the three spots.”


Praful Bhosale, Investigating officer in the case
Praful Bhosale, Investigating officer in the case

They wanted to de-stabilise the whole economy and were planning [something] big. But, as we gradually got clues, we managed to break the whole racket

Gulzar Azmi, General secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra
Gulzar Azmi, General secretary, Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra

We will approach the High Court to challenge the order of the Sessions court. The three who have been acquitted had to face the terror tag for so long as the court took a long time to pass a judgment.

How the encounter unfolded
>> After receiving the info, the squad of encounter specialists headed by Pradeep Sharma and Daya Nayak laid a trap. 

>> They saw a car arriving at the spot. The informer alerted them and confirmed that the terrorists are in the car. 

>> The team decided to wait and watch since the group was heavily armed with weapons such AK-47 and hand grenades. 

>> Soon one of the terrorists in the car came out to meet the informant. 

>> The accused saw the cops and realized something was amiss. But, by then the cops had surrounded the car.

>> The cops asked them to surrender, but they opened fire at the squad, injuring two policemen. 

>> The Crime Branch team retaliated and gunned down all three terrorists. Police recovered several sophisticated firearms and ammunition from them.

>> The most crucial item the cops recovered was a diary in which the terrorists had maintained the accounts of arms and ammunition supplied to Nachan in Padgha. It had the names of people who were part of this group.

The arrests
>> April 10, 2003: The High Court asked Saquib Nachan to surrender himself and face the investigations. Nachan had approached the court after his name cropped up in the investigations. He surrendered to the Mumbai police on the same day of the order.

>> April 15, 2003: Following Nachan’s interrogations, the cops picked up his associate Atif Nasir Mulla 

>> April 17, 2003: Hasib Zuber Mulla was arrested in the case on a transfer warrant. 

>> April 21, 2003: Another accused Gulam Akbar Khotal was arrested in the case

>> May 1, 2003: Farhan Mallik Khot and Mohd Kamil Jamal Shaikh were picked up by the Crime Branch.

>> May 8, 2003: Noor Mohammad Ansari alias Sikander was picked up along with Dr Wahid Jabbar Ansari.

>> May 11 2003: The Crime Branch arrested Anwar Ali Javed Ali Khan. 

>> May 14, 2003: Accused Areef Hussain Shaikh was arrested but was discharged from the case due to lack of evidence. Another accused Mohmmad Nadeem Paloba and planter Muzammil Akhtar Abdul Ansari were picked up.

>> May 22, 2003: Two more accused Haroon Mohammad Lohar and Rashid Ahmad arrested 

>> June 6, 2003: Cops made the last arrest Sadiq Khopoli in the case

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