13/7 mastermind Yasin Bhatkal was on his way to the temple with the timer bomb, but delayed by peak hour traffic, he feared it would go off and threw it at Dadar bus stop, reveal ATS sources
The much-maligned rush-hour traffic around Dadar came as a blessing in disguise for the city on July 13 last year.
Investigations into the 13/7 blasts have revealed that the mastermind of the plot, Yasin Bhatkal, had set out for Siddhivinayak temple with the explosives.
Missed target: The road adjoining Siddhivinayak temple, otherwise
crowded, was deserted the day after the serial blasts. File pic
"On July 13, Bhatkal had left with the explosives from Habib Mansion, Byculla to plant them at Siddhivinayak temple. As he reached Dadar station and began walking towards the temple, he realised he was running out of time. The rush hour traffic had delayed him. Fearing the ticking clock on the bomb's time would make it explode any moment, he hastily dumped the explosives on the rooftop of the bus stand near Kabutarkhana in Dadar (West)," revealed an officer of the Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS).
After MiD DAY's report that 13/7 terrorists had chosen to target the bustling Siddhivinayak temple and had reconnoitred the place, investigations have revealed that the mastermind of the plot, Yasin Bhatkal, had even set out for the temple with the explosives. He was halfway there when heavy traffic forced him to toss the ticking time bomb at the Dadar bus stop. It landed randomly on the roof of the stop, and resulted in two deaths -- the least number of fatalities in the triple blasts.
"On July 13, Bhatkal had left with the explosives from Habib Mansion, Byculla (where he was staying) to plant them at Siddhivinayak temple. As he reached Dadar station and began walking towards the temple, he realised he was running out of time. The rush hour traffic had delayed him. Fearing the ticking clock on the bomb's time would make it explode any moment, he hastily dumped the explosives on the rooftop of the bus stand near Kabutarkhana in Dadar (West)," revealed an officer of the Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS).
"Compared to the other two spots, the Dadar blast resulted in minimum casualties (two)," another ATS officer pointed out, adding, "There was no reason for the module to plant the explosives on the rooftop of a bus stand, where its impact would get subdued."
The conspirators had chosen three spots for explosions -- Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Siddhivinayak temple, the latter being their prime target to inflict the most damage and cause maximum casualties. Though the accused succeeded in executing the blasts at Zaveri Bazaar with nine casualties and Opera House with 16, Bhatkal had to call off the plan to bomb the temple.
According to the ATS, the explosives at the diamond market in Opera House and Zaveri Bazaar had been planted by two Pakistanis who were staying with Bhatkal at the Habib Mansion building in Byculla.
In MiD DAY's edition dated January 19, it was reported on how the module had recced Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi, Lalbaughcha Raja mandal, and even the Mantralaya. They planned to bomb one of these, but decided against it after taking into account the heavy security arrangement and the CCTV cameras.
When contacted Subhash Vithhal Mayekar, chairman of Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust, said, "We have not yet received any intimation that the 13/7 blasts were likely to take place at the temple. We have a very good security system in place. Also, several CCTV cameras have been installed through which all the visitors inside the temple as well as passerby within 300 metres of the premises can be monitored."
The probe so far
The Maharashtra ATS claims to have cracked the case with the arrest of two persons from Darbhanga district in Bihar. Another one of their associates, who allegedly helped them route the funds for the blasts, is already in the custody of the ATS. The mastermind in the case, Yasin Bhatkal, is still wanted.
The accused, identified as Naqi Ahmed Wasi Ahmed Sheikh (22) and Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaq Sheikh (23), were arrested on January 12. Their associate, Haroon Rashid Naik, was picked up by the ATS in August last year in a fake currency case. Police will now seek Haroon's custody from the court on fresh charges.
Interrogations of Naqi revealed that he had stolen around eight to 10 mobiles from the city in last two years. The same mobiles were given to the Darbhangaa module for coordinating efforts.
Also, Haroon had helped the module for the transfer of Rs 10 lakh through hawala transactions. This money was used to buy explosives and other logistics required to execute the 13/7 blasts.