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Book gives insight into 7/11 Mumbai train blasts

Sunday, Jul 10, 2016,13:49 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | A new book presents a blow-by-blow account of the events that led to Mumbai 7/11 train bombings 10 years ago, profiles the people involved in the horrific blasts and describes how the plot was unearthed by police. Six Minutes of Terror: The Untold Story Of The 7/11 Mumbai Train Blasts by journalists Nazia Sayed and Sharmeen Hakim and published by Penguin Random House India is billed as an exhaustive and objective account of the blasts and the case that followed.

Seven blasts in a span of only six minutes rocked the city at seven railway stations, killing 189 people and injuring over 700. The book also tries to delve into the minds of the home-grown terrorists who created unprecedented havoc and claimed innocent lives, the publishers said. The 7/11 bombings were one of the deadliest terror attacks Mumbai had seen after the 1993 blast.

The attacks orchestrated by the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba were aimed to cripple the city by attacking its lifeline – the local train. Nearly 70 lakh people hop on board a ‘Mumbai Local’, as the suburban trains are called, every day.

The suburban network chiefly consists of a clutter of disorganised lines added to a showpiece of colonial mass transit planning. Sometimes decrepit, its tracks flooded annually in Mumbai’s monsoon, its infrastructure creaking under the pressure, the system somehow continues to function, effectively enough for the millions of Mumbaikars to call it the financial capital’s lifeline, the book says.

In fact the overcrowded trains actually trump the city’s potholed roads and traffic snarls, and thousands of car owners will occasionally leave their private vehicles at home to take a train and get to work on time. It’s the busiest railway network in the world, the oldest in Asia, and whether it’s a glitch in the overhead equipment or inundated tracks, when the Mumbai Local is stalled, the megacity grinds to a halt too, it says.

Maybe that’s why history shows us that the local trains have been an obvious terror target. Way back in 1998, a series of blasts at six locations in the central and western suburbs battered Mumbai’s railway stations and trains, killing four people and injuring over 30. The first wave of blasts was carried out over two consecutive days: in Kanjurmarg on January 23, and Kandivali and Malad on January 24. Three more blasts then occurred on February 27 near Virar, Santacruz and Kandivali railway stations.

According to the authors, the city hadn’t yet forgotten the shock of the serial bomb blasts of 1993, in which 257 people died, so the 1998 train attacks seemed relatively insignificant. In March 2003, terrorists struck the rail network again, this time blowing up a compartment of a Karjat-bound local train near the central suburb of Mulund, killing 11 and injuring 70. But again, despite the anger and outrage, railway commuters brushed aside their fear easily enough. On July 11, 2006, that seemed impossible.

The terrorists had come prepared to cause all the devastation they possibly could, and the lifeline of the city was snuffed out, even if only for a few hours, they say. The authors also point out a connection among the three attacks that happened in 2006 – the Aurangabad arms haul case in May, the 7/11 blasts and Malegoan blast case of September.

There were similarities galore between the 7/11 serial train blast case and the Malegoan case, in terms of involvement of accused, use of explosives and the Pakistan angle, they say.

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