It reads like a normal traveller's last-minute shopping list: a suitcase cover with Apollo 600 written on it from a shop in Indore's bustling Kothari Market, and a blue denim cloth for the same from another shop…
NIA investigators vouch these went into the blast that killed 68 people travelling on one of the rare signs of amity India and Pakistan shared — the Samjhauta Express — near Panipat on February 18, 2007. This underscores the importance of Indore in the Hindu terrorist network.
The terrorists had planted four bombs in separate suitcases. Two blasts caused the damage, the third one went off while being defused, and the fourth one was retrieved intact. This bomb provided the vital clues, most of which led investigators to Indore.
For starters, the suitcase was of the Kodak brand and from the marking on the cover — Apollo 600 — the investigators found that a tailor in Indore had made them.
The tailor who had made the cover told the police the suitcase had been given to him by the owner of Abhinandan Stores, Kothari Market. Two of its employees were picked up by Haryana police for questioning and taken to Panipat. They were, however, released within a few days as Haryana police found they were not involved with the crime and also did not remember to whom they had sold the suitcases.
There were also 14 bottles of a mixture of kerosene and petrol with bits of cloth in them to make maximum impact.
While tracing the bottles in which the fuel mix was kept, the police found they were of the 'Gehi' brand and had been manufactured by a firm in Mahim, Mumbai. These bottles were special: they had two caps to make them airtight. The manufacturers said they supplied their bottles mainly to Hyderabad and Indore.
The team from Haryana found the wholesaler in Indore and he admitted that he had sold such bottles, but he had not kept records.
Similarly, the small plastic box of the brand name 'Saurabh' was manufactured in Indore.
The owner told investigators he had made the boxes but it was impossible for him to say anything about the buyers since he shipped them to various places.