Nine years after the Mumbai serial train bombing, a special court in Mumbai will pronounce the verdict in the case Friday. A series of bombs had ripped across seven western suburban coaches killing 189 commuters and injuring 824 on July 11, 2006.
With the verdict on September 11, Special Judge Y D Shinde, who has been conducting the trial in the MCOCA court at the City Civil and Sessions Court, will decide the fate of the 13 arrested accused booked under various stringent charges, including conspiracy and waging war against nation. The court informed the lawyers, public prosecutor and the jail authorities about the verdict date Thursday afternoon, with all the accused asked to remain present.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested the accused between July 20, 2006 and October 3, 2006, but ran into controversy in November the same year when the accused gave a written submission to court that their confessions were coerced. The chargesheet has 30 accused, with 13 identified as Pakistani nationals, and 17 as Indians. Four of the 17 Indians are yet to be arrested.
The 13 arrested accused will be brought to the heavily guarded courtroom number 56 on the fourth floor Friday. The same court had framed charges finding them guilty on 32 counts on August 6, 2007.
A staggering 6,000 exhibits were produced, and a total of 250 defence and prosecution witnesses were examined.
The prosecution’s theory was that bombs were assembled and made in Mumbai, with bombers scouting the trains. The bombs were placed in first-class compartments during evening hours, designed to explode in 11 minutes on the moving trains on various stretches. The motive, according to the ATS, was to target a “specific community” and take revenge for the Gujarat riots.
Advocate Raja Thakare, the prosecutor in the case, is keeping his fingers crossed. “With the kind of efforts and dedication made, I believe justice will be done. And it is not for me to feel that justice has been done, but the public at large…,” he said minutes after he was informed that verdict had been slotted. The trial concluded on August 19, with the court having taken more than a year to arrive at a final verdict.
Advocate Shahid Nadeem of Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra, which has been providing legal help to the accused, said he was hopeful that all the accused would be acquitted. “We have lost Shahid Azmi. We prepared for the case on a daily basis. I am hoping that justice will be done,” said Nadeem. Azmi, who was representing one of the accused, was gunned down by three men at his office in Kurla on February 11, 2010. They had fired at him from point blank range.