The 2006 serial bombings in Mumbai rocked the city as it ripped apart the local train network, widely known as Mumbai’s lifeline. The investigation into the blast kicked off immediately. The ATS claimed to have cracked the case three months after the blasts with 13 arrests, 12 of whom were convicted.
From revelations by different agencies contradicting each other, accusations of torture to extract confessions and the murder of lawyer Shahid Azmi, the investigation has all the trappings of a Bollywood movie. But this is real life.
Here is the timeline of the story that unfolded in the aftermath of the 7/11 bombings.
Lashkar e Taiba’s Azam Cheema masterminds the plan for the 7/11 blast at his residence in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
LeT bombers including the key accused Kamal Ansari infiltrate India from borders near Nepal, Bangladesh and Kutch in Gujarat. They stay at four different places in Mumbai.
On July 11, 2006, seven bomb blasts take place in suburban railway trains in Mumbai within a time span of 11 minutes. 209 people lose their lives and 700 are injured.
Police start investigations with only knowledge of ammonium nitrate being used, as clues were washed away by heavy rains. They arrest 400 people for questioning.
While checking the blast sites, police find pressure cooker handles and aluminium lids in the rubble. They track down shops from where the cookers were bought and eventually trace the terrorists.
The initial success in the case comes on July 18, when the police intercept calls from Mumtaz Chowdhury to his brother-in-law, Kamal Ansari, in Bihar.
Arrests and charge-sheet, 2006:
Between July 20 to October 2, 2006, ATS arrests 13 people and claims to have cracked the case. A charge-sheet is filed against 30 people, including 13 Pakistani nationals on the run. The trial begins in 2007.
Supreme court stays trial:
In June 2007, the accused approaches the Supreme Court questioning the constitutional validity of MCOCA in the case. The Supreme Court stays the trial amidst allegations of torture by the accused.
In September 2008, Mumbai Crime Branch arrests five IM operatives. Probe shows that IM carried out the bombings. This contradicts the version of the ATS and raises questions about the probe’s credibility.
Shahid Azmi claims that he had been receiving death threats for representing the accused and asks for police protection in 2007. He is shot dead at his office in Mumbai on February 13, 2010.
Indian Mujahideen co-founder, Yasin Bhatkal, is arrested near the Nepal border in August 2013. He reveals that IM carried out the attack in retaliation to 2002 Gujarat riots.
Trial in the blast case ends on August 19, 2014.
On September 11, 2015, MCOCA court convicts 12 out of the 13 accused in the case.
On September 30, 2015, the court sentences five of those convicted in the blast to death. Seven others are given life imprisonment.