MUMBAI: Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) top operative Sadiq Sheikh’s confession on his alleged role in the July 11, 2006 serial Mumbai train blasts has come as a huge embarrassment to the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad. Two years ago, the ATS had chargesheeted 13 people but Sadiq and other members of IM module were not named as conspirators.
On Friday, after a news channel aired the videotapes of Sadiq’s confession in which he says that he and his associates had purchased pressure cookers, placed bombs in them and planted them in trains, the ATS was at pains to rubbish it saying Sadiq was trying to mislead investigators.
‘‘Our teams are questioning him and we cannot reveal information at this juncture,’’ said acting ATS chief, additional director-general of police K P Raghuvanshi. It was Raghuvanshi who had headed the 7/11 investigation as ATS chief. He had then claimed that the blasts were carried out by Simi activists and Pakistanis.
Sadiq first admitted his role in 7/11 when he was in custody of the Mumbai crime branch. The crime branch, while investigating the cars stolen from Navi Mumbai which were used in the 2008 blasts in Ahmedabad and planting of bombs in Surat, arrested Sadiq and 20 others last September. DGP A N Roy had then said that Sadiq’s claims were part of an al-Qaida ploy to mislead investigators. TOI had reported these developments extensively in its edition of October 15, 2008.
In the confession which has come to light now, Sadiq, an electronic engineer, said he along with his accomplices engineered the train bombings (which killed 188) on the instructions of his mentors, Riyaz Bhatkal and Amir Raza, both of whom are wanted.
In his statement before the police, Sadiq said that they had manufactured the bombs at a flat in Sewri in central Mumbai which was taken on rent by Abu Rashid, a wanted accused. However, the ATS said the bombs were manufactured in a 100-sq ft room in Govandi and that some Pakistanis were also present there.
‘‘All five of us arranged local first class train passes beforehand. We also had the local train time table with us so that we could choose a train as per our convenience. We purchased bags and pressure cookers in Bombay,’’ Sadiq told the police, adding, ‘‘On the day of the blast — July 11, 2006 — all five of us assembled the bombs and filled seven cookers with explosives. We kept the bombs ready. We had planned the bombs to go off at 6:30 pm. So we had activated the timer at 2 pm. We planned to move one by one with the bags containing the bombs.’’
The crime branch in its chargesheet against the IM module had mentioned that Sadiq was allegedly involved in several blast cases across the country since 2005. Soon after, the ATS which had earlier rubbished the IM claims of carrying out the train attacks, sought custody of Sadiq.