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Month after Mumbai blasts: 26 dead, culprits roam free

Month after Mumbai blasts: 26 dead, culprits roam free

Author: Indo-Asian News Service
Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: August 12, 2011
URL: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Month-after-Mumbai-blasts-26-dead-126-wounded/H1-Article1-732530.aspx

The numbers speak for themselves. A month after the July 13 triple explosions rocked Mumbai, killing 26 and injuring 126 badly enough to be sent to hospitals, around dozen teams from several agencies are yet to make any convincing headway in the probe. The investigation is being conducted by teams of the Mumbai Police, Maharashtra's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and others, with support from the local security agencies in several states.

Though the investigations are spanning Mumbai, other parts of Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, so far police have only succeeded in making the sketch of a suspect based on an eyewitness account.

The triple blasts shook the country's diamond and gold hubs -- Opera House and Zaverai Bazar, besides the busy commercial area of Dadar west.

"We are on the stupendous job of checking the details of individuals in each frame on CCTVs installed around the blast sites, but progress has been slow so far," a senior Mumbai Police officer said on condition of anonymity.

"Teams have fanned out to different parts of Maharashtra and other cities in the country," he added.

Confounding the investigators is the fact that so far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

A suspect, Faiz Usmani, died after he was questioned by police. Faiz, 42, was the elder brother of Afzal Usmani, an Indian Mujahiddeen operative and a prime accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad terror attacks.

Though Faiz died of medical complications, his family members cried foul, blaming police for his death, prompting the state government to immediately order an inquiry into the matter.

"The investigations are proceeding in a certain direction and we are confident of a breakthrough soon," state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria told mediapersons in late July.

After police expressed helplessness over the quality of images derived from the CCTVs, the state government woke up to the need for installing more CCTVs and appointed PriceWaterhouseCoopers as consultants for the project.

Soon after the Nov 26, 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the government had agreed to install over 5,000 'electronic eyes' with the participation of an NGO Bombay First in the city.

However, barring a couple of localised, individual initiatives, the project remains largely unimplemented.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said a few days after July 13 that Mumbai Police would send a team of officials to study the 'rim of steel' set up by the London Police to secure the British capital.

He assured that if required, the Scotland Yard could be invited to Mumbai to advise on how to implement a similar venture for the city.

On the other hand, politicians were engaged in a game of one-upmanship amongst themselves.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Leader of Opposition Eknath Khadse had said the blasts were the outcome of the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance's "indifference" to security issues.

Opposition parties said both the major terror attacks post 26/11 have been in Maharashtra.

The first was the Feb 13, 2010 blast at German Bakery in Pune, followed by July 13.

In fact, since the Mumbai serial blasts of March 12, 1993, there have been a total of 16 major terror incidents in the city and elsewhere in the state. But unlike 13/7, all of have been solved, including the Pune German Bakery blast, which sleuths cracked after a few months.

Giving a controversial twist to the situation, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray blamed migrants for the downslide in the state's law and order situation.

The ordinary Mumbaikar, meanwhile, has seen the routine being played out multiple times in the past.

"While the investigations and politicians proceed their respective ways, the city's residents have taken it all in their stride. Mumbai is its normal self, probably till the next such incident," rued jeweller SV Verlekar.

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