Fifteen years ago, in a horrifying incident of serial bombing, seven bombs exploded back to back in the backbone of Mumbai's transport network, sending a wave of terror through the entire nation.
On July 11, 2006, seven blasts took off in under 11 minutes on the Western line of Suburban Railway in Mumbai.
The blasts killed 209 people and injured over 700. The bombs were set off in pressure cookers installed on the trains by the perpetrators.
The first blast reportedly took place at 6:24 pm, and the explosions continued for approximately 11 minutes, until 6:35 pm, during the rush hour.
All the bombs had been placed in the first-class compartments of several trains running from Churchgate, one end of the western railway line.
This alarming incident of terrorism at the core of the financial capital of the country forever changed the lives of the victims and their families. In the aftermath, several measures were taken by the central government to tighten security in railway stations.
Timeline of events
The blasts began shortly after 6.20 pm when a first class compartment in a Western Railway local train running from Churchgate exploded between Khar and Santacruz stations. At the exact same time, another bomb took off on a fast local between Bandra and Khar Road.
In the next 10 minutes, five more bombings took place in Jogeshwari, Mahim Junction, Mira Road-Bhayander, Matunga- Mahim Junction and Borivali.
In an e-mail to an Indian TV channel, Lashkar-e-Qahhar, a terrorist organisation possibly linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), claimed responsibility for the bombings.
The forensic science laboratory in Mumbai confirmed the use of a mixture of the highly explosive RDX and Ammonium Nitrate for the bombings.
According to the anti-terrorism squad (ATS), The bombs were assembled in Chembur and were taken to Churchgate from where they were planted in various trains.
A memorial service was held, to pay homage to the victims in Mumbai, exactly one week after the blasts.
Late President Abdul Kalam led the two-minute silence as people lit candles and mourned at Mahim station, one of the seven places on the suburban rail network hit by bombs. Sirens sounded across Mumbai marking the memorial service.
The first three arrests of the train bombings were made by the police of people suspected to have been involved in the attack.
It was reported by CNN and other media channels that "The Indian government accused Pakistan's military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, of planning 11 July Mumbai train bombings that killed 209 people".
Hindustan Times reported that "the Crime branch also learnt that the men (behind 2008 Delhi bombings) are those very operatives who had introduced themselves as Pakistanis to perpetrators of 11 July 2006 Mumbai train bombings."
Sadiq Sheikh, an arrested leader of the Indian Mujahideen confessed to his alleged role in the bombings in a news channel broadcast.
In September 2015, 12 people were convicted in this case. A special MCOCA court sentenced to death Faisal Sheikh, Asif Khan, Kamal Ansari, Ehtesham Sidduqui and Naveed Khan who planted the bombs in various trains.
The other seven convicts—Mohammed Sajid Ansari, Mohammed Ali, Dr Tanveer Ansari, Majid Shafi, Muzzammil Shaikh, Sohail Shaikh and Zamir Shaikh who all provided support in the attack were sentenced to life.
One of the accused was acquitted.