The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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7/11 breakthrough in sight: Govt

Mumbai, Sept. 20: Two months and another series of blasts later, Maharashtra deputy chief minister R.R. Patil today promised a “breakthrough” in investigations into the 7/11 train bombings within a few days.

Patil said the probe by the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) was at a “concrete stage” and it would shortly find out which terror outfit carried out the blasts and how.

The 7/11 bombings, which killed 189 and injured more than 750, were followed by blasts in Malegaon that left 31 dead, most of them children.

The deputy chief minister was speaking to reporters at the state police headquarters after consultancy firm McKinsey & Co handed him a detailed report on the revamp of the force.

A few hours later, Mumbai police commissioner Anami Roy, addressing a public function, also hinted that the 7/11 probe was “close to a breakthrough”.

Although Patil and Roy refused to elaborate, senior ATS officials said two of the 10 arrested in the 7/11 case had owned up to their roles in the bombings during scientific tests conducted on them in Bangalore last week.

ATS officials had produced suspected Lashkar operatives Faisal Sheikh and his brother Muzzamil before a local court on Monday. In the remand application, the ATS said the two had owned responsibility and confessed to links with international terror outfits. However, senior police officials refused to comment.

Faisal, 30, and 22-year-old Muzzamil, a computer programmer working with US software major Oracle Corp in Bangalore, were arrested in July. The ATS also seized 37,000 Saudi riyals sent to Faisal from the UAE before and after the July 11 explosions.

Investigations revealed that Lashkar commander Azam Cheema had trained the two in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, ATS sources said.

To follow up on the McKinsey report, Patil appointed a team of three — Chandra Iyengar, principal secretary, home, Javed Ahmed, special inspector-general of the state reserve police force, and K. Venkatesham, the deputy inspector-general (law and order) — to study the report and formulate a plan.

The report has suggested changes in policies and rules. It has also recommended the use of helicopters in a hostile environment, for instance in the Naxalite-affected Gadchiroli district.

This is the first time a private firm has been roped in to make recommendations on upgrading the state police.

McKinsey had earlier submitted a report on Mumbai’s make-over to the Maharashtra government suggesting massive infrastructure development.

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