Nine years after seven blasts ripped through Mumbai’s locals, a special court will on Wednesday hand down sentences to 12 people convicted for plotting and executing the bombings. The verdict was expected around 11.30am.
How the mayhem unfolded
At 6.23 pm, on July 11, 2006, two bombs exploded at Mahim and Bandra stations in two fast locals headed to Borivli from Churchgate.
At the same time, another bomb had exploded in a fast local to Virar at Mira Road. Within five minutes, four more bombs exploded in trains at Matunga, Khar, Jogeshwari and Borivli stations. These were the first train bombings in India, aimed at crippling the lifeline of the country’s financial capital.
The explosions were so powerful that they ripped through the double-layered steel roof and sides of each of the suburban train compartments, leaving 188 people dead and 816 injured
How the plot was hatched
The Maharashtra AntiTerrorism Squad’s investigation revealed that 13 alleged members of the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were in touch with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives in Pakistan.
They met at different places to hatch the conspiracy, and later used five-litre pressure cookers, and used quartz timers to detonate the improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which were made of RDX. The ATS states that 15 to 20 kilograms of RDX were used in the blasts.
The accused, according to the ATS, assembled the IEDs at Chembur and then took them to Churchgate railway station where it was planted in different local trains.
The ATS claimed to have answered all questions when it filed a charge sheet on Nov 29, 2006. But in Sept 2008, a terror suspect Mohammed Sheikh’s confession left the security agencies confused.
The crime branch had arrested Sheikh, who they said was co-founder of the IM, and 20 other members of the homegrown terror outfit. During questioning, he claimed IM operatives executed the bombings, but later retracted his confession.
Merchants of death
The prosecution sought death penalty for eight of the 12 men convicted for the train bombings on July 11, 2006, terming them ‘merchants of death’.
The eight convicts include key conspirators Faisal Sheikh and Asif Khan, who also planted bombs in various trains; three other planters, Kamal Ansari, Ehtesham Siddiqui and Naveed Khan; the man who made the electrical circuits for the IEDs, Mohammed Sajid Ansari; the man who provided his Govandi residence to make the bombs, Mohammed Ali; and one of the conspirators from whom the police seized chemicals used in the bombs, Dr Tanveer Ansari.
The prosecution said the four other convicts – Majid Shafi, Muzzammil Shaikh, Sohail Shaikh and Zamir Shaikh – who provided logistical support, deserved leniency and sought life imprisonment for them. The trial court had earlier acquitted one man Abdul Wahid Din Mohammad Shaikh.
Those sentenced, whether to death or life in prison, have the right to appeal before the Bombay high court. If any of the accused is awarded capital punishment it would need to be confirmed by the Bombay High Court.
If the Bombay High Court confirms the death sentence the accused can appeal in the high court and later in the Supreme Court. If capital punishment is not awarded, the state can appeal in the Bombay high court.