|MUMBAI: The 7/11 bombing
of local trains was by no means the last attack on Mumbai, and the city
is likely to encounter more terror assaults in future.
This warning is the highlight of the Anti-Terrorist Squad’s (ATS) 10,443-page chargesheet filed before the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Thursday.
More shocking than this, however, is the revelation by ATS sources that it had warned the railway authorities about being targeted by terrorists much before the July 11 attacks.
A letter by ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi on March 1, 2006, had informed railway commissioner Suresh Khopde as well as the general manager and divisional railway manager of Western Railway about a possible terror attack.
Raghuvanshi had specifically mentioned that a terrorist could board a local train with an improvised explosive device and get down after leaving it in a compartment.
However, the railway authorities did not take the letter seriously. The chargesheet, which was prepared in 142 days, states that one of the 13 arrested accused, Asif Bashir Khan alias Junaid, is the chief operative of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai (until now, the ATS had believed Faisal Shaikh to be the chief).
"Junaid, president of the banned SIMI in the state, was wanted in two major cases. He acted as a 'coordinator' among all the accused in the 7/11 case," said Raghuvanshi. Fifteen accused, including nine Pakistanis, are still at large. The chargesheet also states that Naved Khan, who allegedly planted a bomb in a Khar train, had told the police that he was in a snooker club in Mira Road then.
"He had enrolled himself in the snooker club under a false name. However, we have evidence that he did not go to the club on July 11," Raghuvanshi told TOI .
The chargesheet mentions more than seven money transactions by the accused from Pakistan to a Gulf country and then India.
Bihar resident Kamal Ahmed, the first to be arrested in the case on July 19, underwent terror training in Pakistan.
"We have submitted our evidence to the court about his visits to Pakistan. He visited Pakistan at least seven times and brought more than a dozen militants to India via the Nepal border," ATS sources said.
India to provide evidence
to Pak, Mumbai train blasts
Taking charge as the Foreign Secretary, Mr Shiv Shankar Menon, questioned how Pakistan could deny the involvement of the ISI and Pakistan-based terror groups without looking at the evidence.
He said India would give evidence to Pakistan and “judge it by its actions and not words.” He said India was ready to present the evidence, but at the right time and the right place.
Reports suggest that Mr Menon will place the proof on the table when he meets his Pakistan counterpart in Delhi next month.
The Mumbai Police had yesterday blamed the ISI for masterminding the blasts and said these were executed by activists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and SIMI.
Mr Menon, a 1972 batch IFS officer, has taken over from Mr Shyam Saran. “We will see what Pakistan does about the evidence and see what its reaction is,” Mr Menon said.
Analysts and the BJP have called the new joint anti-terror mechanism between India and Pakistan as Dr Manmohan Singh’s biggest foreign policy gamble. Mr Menon’s statement in that backdrop can be seen as tough words from the country’s top diplomat. “Success or failure of this mechanism will depend on what action Pakistan will take,” he said.
The Indo-Pak equation isn’t the only issue worrying the foreign policy establishment. The Indo-US nuclear deal is now stuck at the US Senate. On the civil nuclear deal, he said it enjoyed bipartisan support in the US and hoped for the early passage of the Bill by the Congress. “We have made this clear on previous occasions as well,” he said.
Late last night, Democrat Senators put new riders on the legislation to allow nuclear trade with India. The worry now is that it could be a potential deal breaker as the Congress goes to mid-term elections in November.
India’s optimism will be
tested when Mr Saran, who is now an envoy on the deal, meets his counterpart
Nicholas Burns in Delhi later this month in this regard
ISI hand in 7/11 blasts
Mr Roy stated that the bombs were in the form of RDX and other explosives packed in pressure cookers concealed in the luggage left in trains carrying rush-hour commuters. According to the police chief 12 of the 23 persons arrested so far have been directly involved in carrying out the blasts. According to Mr Roy 11 Pakistani nationals were involved in carrying out these blasts.
They arrived in Mumbai in batches. The bombers were trained at Bawalpur in Pakistan and the actual conspiracy to carry out the blasts was hatched in Mumbai itself.
According to Mr Roy, the main conspirators were Faizal Sheikh, Kamaluddin Ansari, Ehtasham Siddiqui, General Secretary of SIMI, Maharashtra. Three co-conspirators are said to be absconding and a hunt is on for them, Mr Roy said.
Explaining the modus operandi of the bombers, Mr Roy said the Pakistanis arrived in Mumbai in different batches. Two of them came via Nepal while others did via Bangladesh and Gujarat. Their accommodation in the city was arranged by Sheikh in different parts of Mumbai. While some of them
were kept in a flat at Malad in North Mumbai, four of them stayed at a flat in Bandra.
Mr Roy said between 15 and 20 kg of RDX was used in the blasts. The explosive was brought from Pakistan by a man called Ehsanullah, according to the police chief. Ammonium nitrate, which was also used in IED, was sourced locally.
Mr Roy said the bombs were assembled by one Mohammad Ali, one of the Mumbai-based conspirators, between July 8 and 10. The bombs were rigged together at a flat in Chembur. In all eight five-litre pressure cookers of the brand name Kanchan bought from local shops were used to case the
RDX. These were then stored at Faizal's Bandra flat.
Each bomb had about 2.5 kg of RDX and 4 kg of ammonium nitrate.
The bombers were divided into teams of two — comprising one Pakistani and an Indian and the bombs were taken to railway stations in taxis before being placed inside various train compartments on the Western Railway suburban network.
Mr Roy said all the bombs were fitted with quartz timers and most of the bombers got off the trains before the bombs exploded. Only one of the bombers could not get off and died in the blasts between Khar and Bandra stations. The body of the man, identified as Saleem from Lahore, was not claimed.
Explaining the detection work, Roy said it was a "professional, precise and well-planned operation." Investigators got their first clue when a phone call from Navi Mumbai to a place along the Indo-Nepal border was tapped. Subsequently prime suspect Kamaluddin Ansari was arrested from Madhubani in Bihar.
Mr Roy said all the arrested men were subjected to narco-analysis tests which helped investigators piece together the modus operandi of the blasts. "All of them were trained in Pakistan and received huge sums of money for the operation," Mr Roy said. He added that Faizal Sheikh confessed to having received around Rs 60 lakh from Pakistan in the past few years.
Stop blaming or produce evidence, Pak tells India
‘Bomb planters were locals,
makers came from Nepal’
Those arrested on Friday were identified as Mohammed Sajid, Mohammed Shafi, Wajihuddin Shaikh and Mohammed Majid Shaikh. While Sajid and Shafi are said to be residents of Mumbra, Wajihuddin is from Kashi-Mira area in Thane district and Majid (34) is a resident of Raja Bazaar area in Kolkata. Majid, suspected to be a member of a Lashkar-e-Taiba sleeper cell, was picked up on Thursday, sources said.
All the four accused were produced before a local court and sent to police custody till October 13.
The arrests came after two accused—Kamal Ahmed and Ethesham Siddiqui— revealed their names in the narco-analysis test. Sources said that the four gave logistic support to Pakistani nationals who planted the bombs in the trains.
Kamal Ahmed, a toy seller from Madhubani district in Bihar, was the first person to be arrested in the case on July 20, while Ehtesham, a small-time publisher of Islamic literature from Mira Road, was arrested on July 29.
Sources say three more persons, including a certain Zahid, have been detained by the Mumbai police for over two weeks but have not been shown arrested formally. These people are said to have provided more information about the other accused.
Majid had reportedly provided shelter to six hardcore LeT militants including Zabiuddin Ansari alias Zabby—a prime suspect in the Aurangabad arms haul case—in June this year at his Rajabazar home.
According to sources, the police is yet to ascertain their role in the blasts and has taken their custody to extract more information from them. So far 13 persons have been arrested in this case.
Although the police claim to have got concrete evidence against these accused, all top officials in the ATS were tightlipped. The police said that the four could help them identify those who had planted the bombs.
Majid, a small-time trader
who owns a shoe outlet at Gas Street, said he was innocent. His home is
at 17/H/6 Canal West Road. He was reportedly picked up late in the night
and taken to Mumbai on an early morning flight. The Kolkata police is expected
to arrive in the city to interrogate Majid. A Mumbai police source said
three ATS teams are still camping in Kolkata and trying to hunt down three
more LeT operatives.
No peace talks till Pakistan
acts on terror, says Manmohan
"Terrorists responsible for the blasts were supported by elements from across the border," Manmohan Singh told reporters at the end of his short visit of the metropolis.
Seven blasts along the suburban commuter train network of India's business capital on Tuesday evening has left at least 200 people dead and about 740 injured.
"This could not have taken place or they could not have hit with such an effect without the help of sympathisers," the Prime Minister added, pointing to the possibility of local support to the terrorists.
"Pakistan has to stop helping terrorism to take the peace process forward," Manmohan Singh maintained.
"Pakistan had assured that it would not let its territory to be used against India. It is time to crack down on terrorism," he said.
The Prime Minister admitted that there were "macro level" intelligence inputs about the terror blasts. "The government had some information about the blasts, but it was not clear," he said, adding: "We have to upgrade out intelligence inputs."
He assured that "We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that terrorists elements in India are neutralised."
The Prime Minister also reviewed the security arrangements after the blasts and the progress of investigations in a meeting with senior Maharashtra government officials at the airport before returning to New Delhi.
Earlier, he visited some of the blast victims being treated at two hospitals in central Mumbai.
PM to seek cohesive action
to combat global terrorism at G-8
During his meeting with Bush, Singh is expected to press for early implementation of the July 18 agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation.
The Singh-Bush interaction will come close on the heels of the US House of Representatives' International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee giving their nod to the nuclear deal which would pave the way for nuclear supplies to Indian reactors.
India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had last week held 'productive' talks on the proposed Safeguards Agreement that is required to be put in place to allow international community to resume nuclear trade with New Delhi.
During the summit, the G-8 leaders are expected to make efforts to break the deadlock over the Doha round of WTO negotiations.
The recent round of negotiations in Geneva ended in a logjam over the issue of industrialised nations cutting domestic subsidy for agriculture and developing nations reducing tariff on industrial goods.
Iran's nuclear programme, education, disease prevention and a massive expansion of nuclear power generation in member-countries are on the agenda of the summit.
An action plan for global
energy security, envisaging a network of nuclear power plants in Group
countries and sale of reactors to developing countries, is also likely
to be drawn up at the summit.
MUMBAI: 15-07-2006. At least 250 people were detained on Saturday from the city's Mahim area, which is allegedly frequented by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, as part of the ongoing probe into Tuesday's serial train blasts.
The raids were conducted early on Saturday morning by officials of the central region of Mumbai police and over 400 policemen from various police stations participated in it, police said.
Nearly a dozen history-sheeters and wanted criminals also landed in the police net during the raid.
The combing operation was launched at 4 am, since there were reports that the area is frequented by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
The suspects will be individually interrogated later, while nearly a dozen history-sheeters and wanted criminals who have been arrested will be produced in Court for offences for which they were wanted, sources said.
A senior official of Central Police Region said that the raid was conducted following instructions by top Mumbai Police officials that local police units should also pursue the blasts investigations independently and assist the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Mumbai Crime Branch.
Various police units have
already detained over 200 suspected SIMI members since past two days, while
local police stations are also likely to intensify combing operations in
the coming days, sources said.
Mumbai bounces back
WR officials said most of the trains between Churchgate and Borivli were running as per schedule though a few services were cancelled today. However only skeleton services between Borivli and Virar were possible till late this afternoon.
With reports of near normal train services coming through the night, most Mumbaiites chose to return to work despite having had to stay out late on Tuesday. "Trains were crowded like before and everyone in our office showed up on time," Alison Fernandes, a secretary in a South Mumbai firm, said. Typically, most people left home early so as not to get caught in traffic jams in order to arrive at work on time.
The city's dabbawallas who supply tiffin to offices across the city were on the roads on schedule collecting lunch boxes from homes. At the Borivli station where at least 25 deaths were reported, Platform No. 4 was all washed clean with the dabbawallas stacking tiffin boxes for onward delivery.
Railway officials however said that long distance trains originating from Mumbai have been rescheduled due to trains piling up all along the route yesterday.
Attendance in schools and colleges was normal with the state government notifying that all educational institutions would remain open today.
The stock markets bounced back a whopping 315 points with buying reported from all classes of investors.
Investigators are almost certain that the synchronized blasts were carried out by the cadres of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). The Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Mumbai police see the involvement of the two terror groups after initial investigations indicated the use of RDX in the blasts.
The packages containing the explosives may have been loaded between Churchgate and Bombay Central railway stations. Unlike in the London train bombings, the Mumbai bombers are believed to have gotten off the trains before the explosive devices went off.
Earlier crackdowns on LeT's modules in Malegaon and Aurangabad in Maharashtra have unearthed more than 43 kg of RDX from the terrorists. Police officials feel that several quantities of RDX could still be floating around in Mumbai waiting to be used in terror operations.
According to ATS officials here, LeT like every other professional terror groups, operates on the basis of several cells operating independent of each other. With only a handful of leaders in the organisation aware of the different cells operating at one time, a great deal of secrecy can be maintained, say the officials. Even if a few cells are exposed, those still active may continue to plan terror operations.
Samajwadi Party leader from Mumbai Abu Azmi is under surveillance following Tuesday's blasts. Azmi is accused of instigating members of the minority community in the town of Bhiwandi last week which resulted in two policemen being brutally hacked to death.
Terror strikes Mumbai,
Mumbai, July 11
All the explosions happened between 6.20 and 6.30 in the evening giving rise to speculation that it was a synchronized effort of a single group.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh later said that initial evidence pointed out to the Lashkar-e-Toiba whose activists have been arrested in the state with high-intensity explosives including RDX in the past several months.
Intial information from the police indicate that the bombers had packed the explosives in bags, similar to those carried by office-goers, and kept them in the overhead luggage carriers of first class compartments. In all the cases, the impact tore off the upper portion of the bogie. Most of the victims who died or were injured in the blasts also received injuries to their upper torsoes, according to the police.
The trains chosen by the bombers plied on the busy Western Railway suburban corridor. The five trains plying between Churchgate and Virar were chosen since these trains carry the maximum number of commuters at all hours.
With the blasts happening all along the 65 km-route, train services along the Western Railway were quickly suspended. Six of the blasts happened at Borivili, Khar, Mira Road, Matunga, Jogeshwari and Bhayander railway stations. The seventh was on the Khar-Santacruz subway, police said.
In Borivli and Matunga, the trains had just arrived at the platform when the explosives went off. The impact of the explosion tore off the roof of the platform at Matunga.
At Borivli, the entire first class coach of the ill-fated train was ripped open and parts of the train's equipment fell on the food stalls on the platform. Deshmukh later told reporters that two explosives may have gone off simultaneously at Borivli.
In all the cases, alert citizenry braving heavy rains played a major role in saving the lives of the injured passengers. At Borivli, police personnel from the RPF quarters in the premises were the first to jump into action. With help from railway employees and passengers, the injured were quickly pulled out of the ill-fated compartment and sent to the Bhagwathi hospital nearby.
"One auto-rickshaw driver carried four bodies in his vehicle, but as he took a sharp turn near the stations one body fell out creating much panic," an eyewitness told this reporter. However the busy road outside the station was quickly cordoned off with police and volunteers from all the major political parties co-ordinating seamlessly.
"All the dead and injured were removed to Bhagwathi hospital in half an hour," the station master said.
However at other stations passengers complained of lethargic efforts by the police. The Railway Protection Force came in for strong criticism for not helping passengers lift the dead and injured.
However volunteers quickly brought in bedsheets to remove the dead and injured from trains and platforms to nearby hospitals.
All the blast venues had gory scenes to report. At Borivli station, volunteers in blood-stained clothes helped investigators recover bags and wallets of passengers in order to establish the identity of the victims.
Damaged laptops, tiffin boxes and office documents drenched in blood were a grim indicator of sudden tragedy.
At Khar road the impact of the explosion threw several passengers hanging on to the doors of the train on to the railway tracks. Several of them sustained serious injuries in the process, the police said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced Rs 1 lakh compensation to the families of the dead.
Mumbai city has been put on red alert following the blasts. All religious institutions and places of interest have been cordoned off. The police said security checks have been tightened at the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
The blasts caused panic as people trying to reach their loved ones jammed both mobile and landline telephones in the city.
MTNL officials said telephone services were not disconnected and networks were congested due to heavy usage.
Mumbai's police commissioner A N Roy said the police were questioning terrorists of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba who were arrested with huge consignments of RDX from various parts of Maharashtra earlier this year.
The police had then said
that the terror outfit had spawned several modules functioning independently
of each other.
Five tourists killed in Srinagar attacks
Among the dead were three women. The condition of two of the 12 injured was critical, Sahai said. Nine of the injured were from West Bengal while two were locals and another a resident of Udhampur.
Another person, whose identity
could not be confirmed, was killed and 11 persons were injured when a vehicle
caught fire following two grenade attacks at Lal Chowk and Abi Guzar in
the city centre, officials said.
Nitin Roy Shrivastava, a security personnel from Lucknow currently posted in Ladakh, was on holiday with his family when militants hurled a grenade at his vehicle bearing a Haryana registration number.
Shrivastava's two children and driver were also injured in the attack, while his wife had a narrow escape as she had got out of the car for shopping.
Ten persons were injured in the fifth grenade attack at the tourist reception Centre, the officials said.
Five members of the group of tourists attacked at Dalgate were declared dead on arrival at the hospital while another succumbed to his wounds later, Sahai said. The five tourists from West Bengal killed in the attack were identified as Sonu Bhattacharya, his wife Chaya, Prateebha Bhattacharya, Kabir Ghosh Roy and Bindu Haldar, official sources said.
No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.
This was the sixth attack on tourists in the Kashmir Valley since the beginning of this year's tourist season.
On April 27, militants lobbed a grenade at tourists at the Pahalgam resort, injuring 18 people. On May 22, militants targeted a tourist bus, killing a local driver and a tourist and injuring three others.
Four tourists from Gujarat were killed in a militant attack on their bus minutes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concluded the second roundtable conference on Kashmir here on May 25.
On June 1, militants carried
out grenade attacks on two tourists buses at Dalgate, killing one person
and injuring 26 others. Most the injured were travellers from West Bengal.
The attacks have affected tourist inflow into the Kashmir Valley, with
operators in West Bengal saying there had been a spurt in cancellations.
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