Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seven years later, 11/7 trial still underway


 

Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel TNN


Mumbai: Seven years have passed since seven bombs ripped through seven trains, killing 187 people and injuring hundreds, but the trial is yet to be completed. With the first three arrests, the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had claimed it solved the case within eight days of the blasts. But seven years later loopholes in the probe are haunting investigating officers. 

    To prove their innocence, the accused are using RTI, calling for call data records (CDR) and even seeking confessional statement CDs from the investigating agency. The 13 suspected Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members who were ‘responsible’ for the blasts are behind bars though the crime branch claimed in 2008 that they were not responsible and it was the handiwork of the now-banned Indian Mujahideen.
 
    Seven RDX bombs, planted in first class compartments, exploded during peak hours on July 11, 2006, near Matunga, Khar, Bandra, Borivli and Mahim stations.  Blast accused Ethesham Siddiqui (31) used RTI query replies to point out loopholes in the prosecution’s case. Last month, Siddiqui, who also appeared in the defence’s list of 48 witnesses, told court that two documents procured under the act, showed that his signature could have been forged on a document showing his alleged willingness to confess. Siddiqui said that while the document produced in court had his ‘signature’, a copy of the document received through an RTI query, bore no such signature. 
 
    Earlier in May, Siddiqui referred to another query and said the information contradicted statements of many prosecution witnesses. A prosecution witness had claimed that he had boarded a Virar local from Churchgate at 5.15 pm. But an RTI reply from the railways showed there was no train at that time. Siddiqui claimed that documents revealed that many witnesses were police informers or under the influence of the
investigating agency. 

    The defence said Dr Tanvir Ansari was not present at the place alleged by the prosecution. “A defence witness, a colleague at Ansari’s hospital, testified that on the day of the blasts he was in hospital, attending to a patient,” the defence said. 

    Siddiqui was accused of manufacturing pressure cooker bombs at the Govandi residence of Mohammad Ali, another co-accused charge-sheeted in the case. He said that he was at Mira Road at the time of the blasts. “I was offering Maghrib prayers at a mosque that day, and was informed about it when I came out,” he said. The police claimed Siddiqui was at Churchgate and had played a key role in planting the bombs. 

    The accused, after submission of call records, had petitioned before court to depose as witnesses. “They had used the CDR to show that they were not present at places the ATS alleged they were that day,” defence lawyer Sharif Shaikh said. The ATS claimed that 11 Pakistanis had entered Mumbai, assembled bombs and planted them on trains, before fleeing. But no Pakistani was caught. The accused face charges under MCOCA and the trial is being heard by special judge Y D Shinde.

 
THE NEVER-ENDING TRAIN JOURNEY
July 11, 2006 | Seven RDX bombs explode on Mumbai trains, killing 188 and injuring 817  
July 20 | ATS begins arrests 
July 25 | Unani doctor Tanvir Ansari held; 16 arrests till date
October | 3 acquitted 
June 20, 2007 | Trial begins in MCOCA court
Aug 23 | An accused appeals  
Feb 29, 2008 | Supreme Court admits appeal, trial stayed
Oct 5, 2009 | SC reserves order on appeal
July 2010 | Trial resumes 
June 2012 | Recording of statements of accused starts

The Times of India, July 11, 2013

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