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A year, and twin blasts trial yet to start

Last updated on: August 25, 2004 15:44 IST

The trial of six persons accused of carrying out the twin bomb blasts that shook Mumbai on August 25 last year will begin on Tuesday next in a special court.

The trial was scheduled to begin on August 17, but had to be postponed because the defence lawyers did not receive the list of witnesses in time.

The Mumbai Blasts: The Full Coverage

In a well-coordinated attack, two bombs placed in taxis exploded in two different crowded localities in south Mumbai on a busy Monday afternoon a year ago. The blasts took place within five minutes of each other, killing 52 people and sending a wave of panic through the city.

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Both cabbies had no inkling of what they were in for when their seemingly innocent passengers requested them to wait at the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar as they alighted for a short while, promising to be back soon. One driver was killed while the other had a lucky escape because he stepped out for a stroll to pass the time till his fare returned.

This was also a lucky break for the police as Shivnarayan Pande, whose taxi was used in the blast at the Gateway, helped them to quickly zero in on the suspects. Pande is now one of the prime witnesses in the case. There are other witnesses who saw the accused at the blast sites.

On February 5, 2004, police filed charges in the case and prepared a list of witnesses and the explosives seized from the accused. They arrested seven persons in all under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Seven others – Nasir, Shauqat, Abid, Khalid, Maksood, Jahangir, Bilal – were listed as wanted.

Sayyed Mohammed Hanif Abdul Rahim (40), his wife Fahmida (37), daughter Farheen (16), and their associate Arshad Shafiq Ahmed Ansari were arrested on August 31. Farheen was discharged later, as the police could not find any evidence to link her to the attacks. She had only accompanied her parents and was unaware of their intention, they said.

Nasir was shot dead by police on September 12, 2003, in an encounter in Matunga, central Mumbai. An associate of Nasir, identified as Hassan, was also killed in the incident. A huge cache of explosives was recovered from their vehicle. The police are in touch with national and international police agencies to nab the other wanted persons.

Zahid Patni was arrested when he returned to Mumbai on the night of September 30 at his family's behest. Hassan Sheikh alias Batterywala and Rizwan Ansari alias Rizwan Ladduwala were also arrested on November 6, 2003. Police reported the seizure of RDX from them. They are accused of supplying the deadly explosive to Hanif and his associates for the August 25 blasts.

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Hanif, Fahmida, Arshad and Patni are also accused of involvement in the Ghatkopar bomb blast of July 28, 2003, and the seizure of RDX from a BEST bus in Andheri in 2002.

One of the accused persons has since turned approver, and police believe this will help them to get a conviction in this case.

Vijay Singh