MUMBAI: A number of intercepted phone calls between an accused and his relative had helped the Mumbai police in tracing the men responsible for the seven blasts in the city’s local trains on July 11, 2006. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had intercepted the calls made by one Mumtaz Choudhary, a resident of Navi Mumbai, to Kamal Ahmed Ansari at Basupatti in Bihar near the porous Nepal border. Choudhary is Ansari’s brother-in-law.
The frequency of calls made the ATS suspicious. Soon, they found from the Intelligence Bureau that Ansari was on the radar for receiving terror training in Pakistan. The ATS arrested Ansari from Bihar after the trail was established. Ansari, one of the three leaders of the bomb planters, spilled the beans on the conspiracy. The police had also rounded up around 400 people at Malvani in western suburbs the very next day of the blasts.
One of them provided a clue which helped in identifying the other accused. Another clue emerged from the tests at the forensic science laboratory at Kalina when the substance used in the blasts was identified as RDX mixed with ammonium nitrate. But it was not an easy investigation. Panic-stricken passengers, curious onlookers and rescuers had made the job of piecing together the evidence a little difficult. In the initial hours after the blasts, it had become almost impossible to collect forensic evidence because of heavy rain.
The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS), comprising 20 officers, 50 constables and five sniffer dogs, worked round-the-clock to find clinching evidence on the spot. The first big break came from the Jogeshwari blast site where the BDDS sleuths found pressure cooker handles. The squad also traced charred pieces of aluminum lids of the cookers.
Investigations by local police stations in their respective areas revealed that the Kanchan pressure cookers were purchased from two shops in Santa Cruz. The then ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi put together a team of four IPS officers and over 40 policemen — seven teams for seven blasts, assisted by two technical support teams. Intelligence was also sought from the IB, RAW and the state police.
A bar girl Manisha, who was in a relationship with a convict Faisal Ansari, provided details of his location near the Nepal border. Raghuvanshi’s investigation revealed that around 50 youths were trained at a terror camp in Bahawalpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and sent to India via different routes. The convicts along with the absconding Pakistan nationals rented houses in the city suburbs such as Malad, Bandra and Borivali. They had brought around 20 kg RDX and ammonium nitrate.
They bought eight cookers from two shops in Santa Cruz. They assembled the bombs at a house at Govandi. On July 11, 2006, they took eight different trains from Churchgate station and planted the bombs on the trains.
Most Difficult Case to Solve
The then Maharashtra ATS chief Raghuvanshi, speaking to reporters after the court’s verdict, said, “This was one of the most difficult cases to crack compared to similar incidents across the world. We did not recover any live bomb. Most clues were washed away due to heavy rain that day.”