Thirteen terror attacks have taken place in Maharashtra in the last one decade leaving 501 people dead but barring trial in the 26/11 case,no other matter has either made headway as far as investigation is concerned or in the legal system.
Beginning from the Ghatkopar blast in December 2,2002 when two people were killed and the latest July 13 triple blasts,as many as 501 people have been killed as per official data and more than 2,200 people injured.
The verdict in the Ghatkopar blast had left Mumbai Police red faced when all the eight accused were acquitted by a special POTA court of all the charges due to lack of evidence in June 2005.
The eight accused in the case were — Dr Abdul Mateen,Jameel Ahmed,Imran Rehman Khan,Altaf Mohammed Ismail,Towfeeq Ahmed,Arif Paanwala,Harun Rashid Lohar and Rashid Ansari. Police had claimed that they were members of Lashker-e-Taiba but could not provide a single evidence in their support.
Nineteen people were rounded off in connection with the December 6,2002 blast at Mumbai Central which was clubbed with other similar incidents of blasts in Vile Parle (January 27,2003) and Mulund in March 13,2003.
The arrested people had been booked under Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and trial is almost coming to an end. The three blasts had claimed 12 lives and injured 141 persons,as per the court record.
The probe agencies also clubbed the three blasts of Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India on Aug 25,2003 and Ghatkopar bus blast on July 29,2003.
Three persons — Hanif Sayed Anees (46),his wife Fahmida (43) and Arshat Ansari (32) — were arrested and booked under POTA. On August 6,2009 a special POTA court convicted the three and awarded them death penalty for carrying out designs of Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba to create terror in India.
After years of trial in special POTA court,the three accused have now moved to the Bombay High Court challenging the verdict and claiming they were innocent and falsely implicated by the police.
The case relating to the serial blasts in trains in Mumbai on July 11,2006,which left 187 people dead and over a 1000 people injured,is still doing rounds of the courts.
The trial against 13 persons who were allegedly members of the banned SIMI and LeT commenced in May last year after the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by one of the accused Kamal Ansari challenging the constitutional validity of a section pertaining to insurgency under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) invoked against the accused.
“111 witnesses have been examined in the case so far out of which three have turned hostile. There are about 15 witnesses remaining. The prosecution has submitted the affidavits of over 200 witnesses. At the present speed,the trial should conclude within four months,” a senior official said.
The trial in the two blasts at Malegaon in 2006 and 2008 are yet to pick up pace. In the 2006 blast,13 people have been arrested by the Maharashtra ATS. However,the chargesheet was full of loopholes and the case was transferred to the CBI. All these cases were transferred to the National Investigation Agency.
The Maharashtra ATS’ case was also punctured by the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand,who had claimed that the first as well as second blasts at Malegaon were conducted by Hindu terror groups.
The second terror attack in Malegaon,a powerloom township of Maharashtra,saw unfolding of Hindu terror groups after a thorough investigation by the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare,who was killed during the 26/11 attack.
The 26/11 attack is possibly the only exception. The lone surviving terrorist of Lashker Ajmal Kasab has been sentenced to death by the trial court which has been confirmed by the Bombay High Court. The appeal for confirmation of death sentence is at present pending before the Supreme Court.
The German Bakery blast was another terror attack last year in this state in which 17 people including some foreigners were killed.
The claims of Mumbai’s Anti-Terror Squad of having cracked the German Bakery case seem to have hit a roadblock with a key accused claiming that he had been detained several weeks before the blast.
Notwithstanding the charge sheet filed by ATS holding Himayat Beig as an accused in the Pune blast,which took place last year killing 17 people including foreigners,the police is yet to answer many queries regarding the blast including the triggering mechanism and the modus operandi adopted by the perpetrators.
Beig,who has been granted audience with his counsel A Rehman,has contended that he was picked up by ATS weeks before the blast at the Pune bakery had taken place in connection with a petty crime. “He told me that he had been picked up by police weeks before” the blast,Beig’s advocate Rehman had said earlier.