8 unanswered questions about 11/7 Mumbai train blasts

Nine years after the serial train blasts on July 11, 2006, the trial may have finally come to a close, but even to this day, there remain some questions that the investigation never quite managed to answer about the case. Sailee Dhayalkar highlights eight of the glaring loopholes in the case

Call records state three planters were not at crime scene
Using the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the accused had sought their call data records (CDR) to prove they were nowhere near the crime scene on the day of the blasts. At first, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) told them it had destroyed the CDR and that there was no chance of recovering the documents.

Also Read: 11/7 sentencing: Planters get death, 7 others get life

The convicts are led out of the Arthur Road jail to the Sessions court on Wednesday for the sentencing in the 11/7 train blasts case. Pic/PTI
The convicts are led out of the Arthur Road jail to the Sessions court on Wednesday for the sentencing in the 11/7 train blasts case. Pic/PTI

The accused then approached the court, which directed the mobile service providers to retrieve the data. These records were then furnished before the special MCOCA court to show that the three men accused of planting bombs on Virar-bound trains at Churchgate station, were actually nowhere near there on 11/7.

Read Story: 11/7 verdict: Convicts' families speak out against judgment

“The prosecution claimed the accused did not use their mobile phones during the alleged operation, but instead left the phones with family members or friends to mislead the investigations,” said one of the defence advocates.

Traces of RDX found after a month
“A month after the blasts, ATS said they had found traces of RDX at the house of Mohammad Ali Shaikh in Govandi, where the bombs were allegedly made. They claimed that traces were also found at the Bandra house of Mohammad Faisal Shaikh and in the Maruti vehicle used to move the bombs from Govandi to Bandra.

The question is, how is it possible that the traces remained even after a month?” questioned the defence. The ATS did not find any traces of RDX in the two taxis that were used by the accused to move from Bandra to Churchgate on the day of the blast.

The defence advocate also pointed out that the ATS had said that the bombs were made at Shaikh’s 10X10 house in Govandi over three days, but there was no eyewitness to verify this. Instead, the prosecution only called one witness to testify about this, and that witness himself has a criminal record.

No eyewitness to nail Naveed Khan as planter
While the ATS presented eyewitnesses who identified four of the bomb planters, the prosecution did not produce any such eyewitness for Naveed Khan, who was convicted for planting the bomb that exploded near Bandra station. There was no eyewitness who saw him either boarding the train or getting off after planting the bomb.

Pressure cooker theory
During investigation, the ATS had revealed that the conspirators had bought eight Kanchan pressure cookers for the blasts from two shops on Hasnabad lane in Santacruz market. But there was no mention of pressure cookers in the chargesheet, which instead stated that the IEDs had been kept in “household utensils”.

There was little mention of the pressure cooker theory during the trial either, and even though the ATS had traced the shops where the cookers were bought from, the prosecution did not examine the shopkeepers in court.

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It was only during his final arguments that Special Public Prosecutor Raja Thakare again introduced the theory, and said, “pressure cookers were used”, adding that it was not just a theory that had been given up.

Why weren’t the cabbies examined?
According to the ATS, two taxis were used by the convicts to get to Churchgate from the Bandra hideout on D-Day. The two taxis each had two people inside. “Prosecution failed to provide any details about those taxis, not even photos of those taxis or any documentation like insurance papers. The statements of the two taxi drivers were also recorded after three months, but they were not examined during the trial,” the defence pointed out.

Who are the two other planters?
It was the prosecution’s case that there were seven Indians and seven Pakistanis who had planted the seven RDX bombs on seven different local trains. Each bomb had been planted by one Indian and one Pakistani.

While none of the Pakistani planters were apprehended, five of the Indian planters were nabbed - Ehtesham Siddiqui, Asif Khan, Faisal Shaikh, Naveed Khan and Kamal Ansari. But there has been no information about the two remaining Indian planters, and they were not mentioned even in the confessions of the accused.

IM had claimed responsibility
Even as the 13 accused (including Abdul Wahid Din Mohammed Shaikh, who was the only one to be acquitted) faced trial for the 11/7 blasts, controversy struck as the Mumbai Crime Branch claimed to have arrested Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives who were involved in the train blasts.

This contradicted the investigations of the ATS, which held Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) responsible for the attack and arrested the 13 accused who stood trial.

The Crime Branch had arrested 21 men, two of whom said in their confessional statements that the IM was responsible for all blasts in the country from 2005 to the time of their arrest. One of the accused, Sadiq Shaikh even confessed to having played a direct role in 11/7.

Later, when the Crime Branch handed Sadiq over to the ATS, the agency let him off saying it did not have enough evidence to show he was ‘deeply involved’ in 11/7.

Body of deceased Pakistani planter was never identified
According to the ATS, the blasts didn’t just kill 188 innocent people, but also claimed the life of one of the Pakistani bomb planters who could not get out of the train in time. However, the planter’s body was never identified. “The prosecution had said that Pakistani Abu Umaid had gone to plant the bomb along with Naveed Khan.

Khan, in his confession, had said that while he managed to get out of the train, Umaid got stuck since he was not used to Mumbai trains and the rush hour crowd,” said the defence, adding, “Prosecution had examined witnesses who said they saw a person trying to get off the train but couldn’t get out.

A witness had even seen him getting into the train with some bag. But the prosecution did not submit any evidence in court through which the witnesses could identify the planter.”

192
Number of witnesses examined by the prosecution

51
Number of witnesses examined by the defence

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