Four years ago on July 13, serial blasts ripped through Mumbai’s heart, leaving 27 dead, 127 injured, and a city deeply shaken.
This was the fourth time Mumbai was the site of a major terror attack, in less than 10 years. Yasin Bhatkal, the chief operational commander of the terrorist group Indian Mujahideen (IM), was directly involved in planning and executing the blasts.
Four years on, the trial in the case is to commence shortly. While some key players have been arrested, the real masterminds, say security agencies, are in Pakistan.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that the charge sheet in the case was filed in June this year.
Investigations by the antiterrorism squad (ATS) revealed that Bhatkal lived in a rented room in Byculla, which is just 1-2 kilometers away from the ATS headquarters.
They conducted a reconnaissance of the potential targets in the city, of which Wankhede stadium was one. The plan to target the stadium had to be abandoned because it had heavy security thanks to the IPL matches.
IM members planted bombs at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and opposite a school in Dadar. The fourth bomb, planted at Dadar phool market below a police van, did not go off.
For funds, according to ATS officials, Yasin was paid Rs10 lakh on the orders of Riyaz Bhatkal, Pakistan-based co-founder of IM. Four of the arrested accused, Haroon Rashid Naik, Kanwar Nain Wazirchand Pathrija and Muzaffar Kola, were involved in the fund transfer. The money was sent from Dubai and Yasin got it from Pathrija in New Delhi.
The bombs were assembled in the rented room at Byculla and went off at Zaveri Bazaar, Opera House and Dadar between 6.52pm and 7.05pm.
Sources said Bhatkal, along with Mohammed Kafeel Ansari held dars (lectures) in a madrassa in Darbhanga to indoctrinate youths i nto t he IM. Three youngsters brainwashed in this madrassa were Naquee Ahmed,22, Nadeem Sheikh, 23, and Tesheen Shaikh alias Monu, all of whom involved in the blasts.
ATS sources said Ahmed stole scooters that were used to plant bombs in Zaveri Bazar and Opera house, while Sheikh helped steale the vehicles, and also received explosives and detonators that he passed to Bhatkal. The explosives are suspected to have been procured from Karnataka.