The ongoing 26/11 Mumbai attack trial is likely to end after Maharashtra’s Assembly elections, scheduled next month.
On Wednesday, the Mumbai Crime Branch told the special court trying Pakistani attacker Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and two of Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyeba’s (LeT) local operatives, that they expect to complete recording of evidence before month-end.
“We intend to examine approximately 230 witnesses (183 are complete) and their evidence by this month end,” said senior police inspector and chief investigator Ramesh Mahale.
The clarification came after judge ML Taheliyani, presiding over the trial, rapped the Crime Branch and directed them to speed up the trial by examining more witnesses every day.
Even if recording of evidence, as proposed by Mahale, is completed before this month end, at least another three to four weeks would be needed to prepare for final arguments by prosecution and defence, recording of statements of the three arrested, and preparation of the final verdict.
Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani attacker, and two suspected local facilitators — Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed — face trial for their alleged complicity in the November 26, 2008, terror attack on the city.
At least 173 people, including nine of the 10 Pakistani attackers, were killed, and 304 others were wounded in the attack, which lasted nearly 60 hours.
Inspector Prakash Bhoite of the Colaba police station, a witness who testified before the court, said notes scribbled in Urdu saying, “This is a pointer to war” were pasted on the two powerful RDX-laden bombs planted near hotel Taj.
“The notes were pasted on the electronic timers,” Bhoite added.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam clarified that the notes also contained some code instructing the LeT operatives on setting the timers.
Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) sleuths had defused both the bombs — one found under a tree in front of the new wing of the Taj, the other in front of the nearby Gokul restaurant.
According to the prosecution, the 26/11 attackers had carried one RDX-laden bomb each, fitted in metal boxes, then locked, making the BDDS sleuths’ job difficult.