In what could be a major blow to the Maharashtra anti-terrorist squad (ATS), the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (Mcoca) court allowed the accused in the 7/11 Mumbai serial train blasts to examine co-founder of Indian Mujhahideen (IM), Mohammed Sadiq Israr Sheikh and two other IM operatives.
This is of significance because ATS had taken Sadiq’s custody after he had allegedly confessed to the serial train blasts, but had discharged him in 2009.
Sadiq had told investigators in Gujarat and Mumbai about his role in the serial train blasts. But the then ATS, led by additional director general KP Raghuvanshi, had taken Sadiq’s custody and discharged him from the case in April 2009. ATS officials had then said that they questioned Sadiq thoroughly but did not find his involvement in the train blast case.
Defense lawyers would now examine Sadiq along with Arif Badruddin Sheikh and Ansar Ahmed as defense witnesses in the train blast case next week. The Mumbai crime branch had arrested the three IM operatives along with 18 others in September 2008 for their alleged role in various blasts across India.
The trial court has allowed the examination after the Supreme Court in an order stated that the defence cannot examine the police officers, but allowed them to call the three accused as defence witness in the case. The accused had earlier sought to examine the deputy commissioners of police who had recorded confessional statements of Sadiq and others.
Sheikh, the co-founder of the homegrown terror outfit, had claimed to both Gujarat and Mumbai police that he and his associates had conducted the blasts. Sadiq’s confession negated ATS’s long-winding plot of Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives having conducted the blast along with Indian counterparts. Sadiq had then stated that the planning for Mumbai blasts started soon after the blasts at Varanasi railway station.