The trial in the November 26, 2008 terror attacks has made fresh again the tragedy that touched so many lives that day. One such tale emerged on Saturday, in the special court at the Arthur Road Jail.
Submitting a report on the taxi blast at Vile Parle, the prosecution said a senior superintendent at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) had confirmed that Lakshmi Narayana Goel, a senior advocate from Hyderabad who was in Mumbai on business, was killed in that blast. It also revealed that records from the mobile company Goel subscribed to had provided details of a phone conversation between Goel and his sister-in-law Usha Chaudhary that evening.
That call from Chaudhary saved Goel from the bullets of Ajmal Amir Kasab and his accomplice Ismail Khan at CST but a quirk
of fate landed him in the taxi where Kasab had planted an improvised explosive device (IED) and he wasn’t lucky the second
Goel — survived by his wife and four daughters — had just reached the busy railway station that evening to catch a train to Hyderabad when he got the call from Chaudhary. His sister-in-law asked him not to enter CST as terrorists were on the rampage inside. She asked him to head back to her house in Kandivli.
Goel got into a taxi outside the station and called his family in Hyderabad, telling them he would take the same train home the next day. Little did he suspect that Kasab and Khan had taken the same taxi to CST, or that they had planted a bomb in it.
Umar Sheikh, the driver, also did not suspect anything. When one of his friends, Irshad Sheikh, told him not to go towards CST because firing was on there, Umar told him not to worry as he was heading for Kandivli. Umar and Goel’s journey ended when the IED ticked off on the Western Express Highway at Vile Parle, killing them both. Chowdhury identified Goel the next day from the half-burnt legal documents he was carrying.
Having made this revelation, the prosecution got down to the business of telling the special court about the witnesses it would like to examine — including Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and foreign experts — to establish Kasab’s complicity. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said 100 potential witnesses from a list of 1,820 would be examined. The foreign experts would be relied on to throw light on the global positioning system equipment and cellphones used by the 10 terrorists.
Malabar Hill was target
Nikam also told the court that Kasab and Khan planned to strike the VIP locality of Malabar Hill, where the bungalows of the governor, chief minister and ministers are located. Only Khan knew the details and told Kasab he would reveal them when they got there. Fortunately, he was gunned down by the police before he could carry out the plan.
As many as 170 people — more than 20 of them foreign visitors — lost their lives in the series of attacks that day.
(With inputs from PTI)