Driver`s survival, blessing for probe team: Chief IO
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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 00:10
Mumbai: The driver of a taxi which exploded at the Gateway of India during the 2003 twin blasts here turned out to be a crucial witness and helped investigators in cracking the case in a great way, a top official said on Monday.

"The investigations were greatly aided by the survival of Shiv Narayan Pandey, the driver of the taxi which exploded at the Gateway of India, as he told us where he had picked up the suspects from, their appearance and age," Suresh Walishetty, Chief Investigating Officer of the case, said.

Expressing his delectation over the conviction of three accused -- Hanif Sayyed, wife Fehmida and Ashrat Ansari -- by a special POTA court, Walishetty, who retired as ACP, said, the conviction was a matter of great elation for all members of the investigating team.

"We had a team of around 25 officers who spread across Andheri looking for the family but at that time we did not know that the accused had boarded the taxi from a location far off from their home to avoid being traced," he said.

However, another accused Ashrat Ansari lived in the area and we were able to track him down, he said, adding we nabbed him while he was leaving his house and took him for interrogation.

Ashrat, who was initially holding out, broke down when informed that he would be blamed solely for the blasts and that he can save himself by revealing the identities of his accomplices.

"Ashrat revealed Hanif's address to us but we could not directly enter the area as it was a slum and anyone new there would be instantly noticed," Walishetty said.

So, we laid a trap and some of our officials disguised themselves as hawkers and local traders and managed to slip into the area and started looking for Hanif and his family, Walishetty said.

"Finally, when we got to know about Hanif's place, we brought Ashrat to verify that we have marked the right house, raided it and arrested the residents".

The investigating officer goes on to add that they came to know about another accused Nasir, a resident of Hyderabad, who had aided the group in obtaining RDX for the blasts and based on mobile phone calls tracked him to Ruparel college in central Mumbai.

He was, however, killed in a gun battle with the police.

"Perhaps if we had caught Nasir alive we could have got more information on other modules and other blasts he was involved in," Walishetty added.

Containing his disappointment over the probe team not being given the reward promised by the Maharashtra government, he said, "Now that the conviction has taken place, hopefully we will get to see the reward which we were promised by the state government during investigations".

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 00:10

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