The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Thursday afternoon filed a voluminous chargesheet, running into over ten thousand pages, in the July 11 train blasts case against the 13 accused in a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Act (MCOCA) court.
The filing of the chargesheet marks an end to the over four month-long exhaustive investigations into the blasts that was carried out by the ATS, which began hours after seven RDX-based `cocktail’ explosive devices ripped through first class compartments of seven suburban locals trains at rush hour on July 11. The blasts had occurred at separate locations in—a span of five minutes, beginning at 6.23 pm—that left 187 dead and 820 injured.
Police Commissioner AN Roy expressed his `pride’ over the ATS’s detection of the case in the face of skepticism in a section of the media.
The chargesheet names three alleged masterminds in the case —Lashkar-e-Taiba's India 'commander' Azam Cheema (53), Bandra resident and LeT’s western India `commander’ Faisal Sheikh (32) and Jalgaon resident and former state president of the banned SIMI(Students Islamic Movement of India) Asif Khan Bashir Khan alias `Junaid’.
According to ATS, Faisal allegedly orchestrated the blasts on the orders of Cheema, who had sent to him 9 Pakistani `bombers’ that jointly executed the blasts with the help of other `local’ bombers. Faisal was also responsible for the blast at Jogeshwari.
The ATS chargesheet has named a total of 28 accused in the case, out of which 13 are in judicial custody, while the 15 others—nine including Cheema and seven `bombers’ are all Pakistanis—are absconding (most are hiding in Pakistan). Two Pakistani bombers—Abu Osama and Mohammed Salim—are already dead.
Other absconders include Faisal’s associates—Rizwan Dawre, currently in Saudi Arabia—and brother Rahil(UK); Abdul Razak , Sohail Sheikh, Mohammed Zuber and Abdul Rehman(all in Pakistan).
The entire chargesheet runs into 10,667 pages, a copy of which was also provided to each of the 13 accused for their perusal. The chargesheet was brought in 15 bags to the court by the ATS team.
The chargesheet cites 2,037 witnesses to the case and details the body of evidence the ATS has gathered including their statements, `confessions’ of the accused (seven of them have sought to retract them a month ago), inquests-reports, and panchnamas, among others. The first arrest was made in the case on July 20, while the last was made on October 3. Seven of the accused have been `identified’ by the case witnesses
Among the absconders are the seven Pakistani bombers—Aslam, Hafizullah, Saabir, Abu Bakar, Kasam Ali, Ammu Jan, and Abu Hasan. Another named Ehsanullah had brought 15-20 kg of RDX and helped in the bomb making.
The evidence includes 'incriminating' materials the ATS seized at the instance of case accused — Kamal Ansari, Dr Tanvir Ansari, Faisal Sheikh, Mohammed Ali, Asif khan alias Junaid, Sajid Ansari, and Naveed Khan, which were sent for testing at Kalina’s Forensic Laboratory. Besides, mobile handsets, hard discs from computers were sent for forensic test in Hyderabad, reports from handwriting experts, and call records of mobiles sued by the accused.
Besides, the evidence also includes remnants of electronic wares used by Sajid to make `timers for the bombs used”, report of RDX trace recovered from Faisals’ Maruti van that had transported him and the `bombers’ before the blasts.
The accused have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, mcoca, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act, Railway Act, Passport Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.
The chargesheet crams some interesting details—the ATS spent Rs. 27 lakh in probing the case, spent roughly 3.82 man-hours over the probe, and spent Rs.2.10 lakh over making Xeroxes.