A year on, 13/7 blasts' trial may take years to begin



Mumbai: A year after three coordinated bomb blasts rocked India's commercial capital Mumbai, a legal official says that it may take at least another three years for the trial to begin.

"It will take at least three years for the trial to begin in the case, considering a huge backlog of pending cases before the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court," defence lawyer Sharif Shaikh said.

Three blasts at close intervals shook Mumbai's diamond and gold hubs - Opera House and Zaveri Bazar - and a busy commercial area of Dadar July 13 last year, killing at least 27 people and leaving around 125 injured.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has already filed its final report before the MCOCA court against the five arrested and six absconding accused.

At present, the court is hearing the July 2006 serial train blasts case.

Subsequently, the court is likely to take up the Aurangabad arms haul case of 2006, the trial of which will last for at least a year, another lawyer said.

State-appointed Special Public Prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam, however, seemed positive. "We will do our best to speed up the trial," he said.

On May 25, the ATS filed a 4,788-page chargesheet before the MCOCA court against 10 members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM), including its top operative Riyaz Bhatkal who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

Of the 10 members of the terror group, six are absconding while four have been arrested.

The four arrested include Naqi Ahmed, Nadeem Shaikh, Kanwar Pathrija and Haroon Naik, who are charged under various sections of MCOCA, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Indian Penal Code, Explosives Act, Explosives Substance Act and Prevention of Public Property Act.

The investigation was 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 of several states.

IANS