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Ahmedabad Bomb Blasts of 2008: As culprits get convicted, here’s a lookback on the serial bombings that undid Indian Mujahideen

On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, a special court in Gujarat convicted 49 of the 77 accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad bomb blast case. 28 accused were acquitted by the court. Out of these 28 acquitted, 16 were given a benefit of the doubt, while 12 were pronounced innocent due to lack of evidence. 

The blasts that shocked the city were carried out by an Islamic terrorist organization Indian Mujahidin (formerly known as SIMI – Students Islamic Movement of India). As the case crosses an important judicial milestone, it becomes important and relevant to revise the terrorist attacks on one of the most important cities in the western part of India.

The Threat Email

On 26th July 2008 at 6:41 in the evening, several news agencies received a 14-page e-mail five minutes before the explosions with the subject line: “Await 5 minutes for the revenge of Gujarat”. It was clear enough that the terrorists were referring to the Gujarat riots of 2002 which took place after the Godhra carnage. This email was sent by Indian Mujahidin. The email had further said, “In the name of Allah the Indian Mujahideen strike again! Do whatever you can, within 5 minutes from now, feel the terror of Death!” With mentioning of Allah, it was also clear that Islam is the inspiration of these terror attacks.

2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts
The terrorists targeted city buses in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts of 2008 to kill people in large numbers. Image Source:

The terrorists mocked the Indian security systems reminding the then CM of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy R. R. Patil of the bomb blasts that took place in the local trains of Mumbai on 11th July 2006. The email said “We wonder at your memory. Have you forgotten the evening of 11 July 2006 so quickly and so easily?”

2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts
All the culprits of the bomb blasts. Image source: Dainik Bhaskar

As Ahmedabad holds great financial importance and Mumbai is the financial capital of the nation, the email vocally threatened one of the leading businessmen in the country Mukesh Ambani for building his multistorey house in Mumbai. The email said, “Think twice before usurping and building a citadel on land in Mumbai that belongs to the Waqf board…lest it turns into horrifying memories for you which you will never ever forget.” The email had also threatened many Bollywood actors asking them to stop acting in films.

The Blasts

Five minutes later, as threatened in the email, the city of Ahmedabad shook with the serial blasts. It started at 6:45 PM and the explosives blasted in various parts of the city at regular intervals. There were 21 blasts in all which took place at 14 different locations in the city in the next 70 to 80 minutes. The bomb blasts shook the following areas: Khadia, Raipur, Sarangpur, Maninagar, Hatkeshwar Circle, Bapunagar, Thakkarbapa Nagar, Jawahar Chowk, Govindwadi, Isanpur, Narol, and Sarkhej.

The site map of the blast locations. Image Source:

Two more severe blasts occurred in two hospitals in the city namely L. G. Hospital Maninagar and Ahmedabad Civil Hospital’s Trauma Center. A total of 56 innocent citizens were killed in this attack while 243 people were injured. The bomb blast in the civil hospital caused what could be the peak of the most horrific scenes in the city ever.

It was a typical lazy Ahmedabad evening. People returning home from their offices. Suddenly the bombs blasted in various parts of the city and everything changed. Ambulances taking injured people to the hospitals. Sirens of police vans and ambulances underlining the seriousness of the incident and the fear in the minds of people. News channels flooded with stuff about the bomb attacks in Ahmedabad. People were gathering at the civil hospital to help the injured ones and to meet their kins who were injured in the attack. And right at this moment, the bomb in the civil hospital of Ahmedabad exploded.

2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts
The timeline of the blasts. Image source:

The blast was so severe that everyone in the hospital had gone deaf for a while. Reeling the senses, what people found there was bloodshed and pieces of dead bodies all around. The blast in the hospital claimed 37 lives, the most of all 21 blasts in the city. The hospital was targeted specifically with the intent of raising the count of casualties which would, in turn, amplify the fear in the minds of people. And as mentioned in the threat mail, rooting the fear deep in the minds of Indians was the core purpose of the attacks. The difference in this attack from other mass casualties was that it occurred in the Trauma center of the hospital itself, which disrupted the entire Disaster management plan of Civil Hospital. The burns of the patients who were affected in this bomb blast in the hospital were so severe that their treatment later became a topic of medical research.

The Human Within the CM Modi

Narendra Modi was the CM of Gujarat in 2008. The attacks caused pain to him. He instructed the administration and the medical staff for the best treatments to be given to the injured people. He announced a compensation of Rs 500,000 to each victim of the bomb blasts as opposed to the Rs 100000 compensation given by the then PM Manmohan Singh.

Narendra Modi visited the sites of the bomb blasts. Image Source: The Print

With Gujarat’s then Home Minister (States) Amit Shah, Modi immediately reached the police commissioner’s office. Simultaneously, orders were given to DGP PC Pande and Commissioner OP Mathur to get hold of the operating forces behind this attack. All support from the government was assured.

The Investigations

27th July 2008, late in the night. Abhay Chudasama, DCP of the crime branch of Ahmedabad police was busy gauging the depths breadths of this case when he started receiving inputs from the network of his informers about the said activities SIMI agents were involved in for the last few days. A report by News18 has detailed his role in the investigation of this case.

According to the report, Abhay Chudasama had an invincible and impeccable network of informers which is a prerequisite to breaking the backbones of organized crimes like such terrorist attacks. All he needed was a team of a few more committed officers. The state government extended him full support on this front and he was provided with a team of brave and intelligent officers having excellent track records of solving complicated cases.

The state home ministry overnight deputed a team of officers like GL Singhal, Himanshu Shukla, Rajendra Asari, and Mayur Chavda into the crime branch. Earlier these officers were at that time serving in different cities of the state. It must be noted here that, the network of informers, in this case, grew exponentially with every single officer included in the team. DGP Ashish Bhatia was the joint CP now.

The Initial Leads

As per the inputs received from the informers, Abhay Chudasama led the investigations in those directions. A handful of suspects were rounded up. No concrete development was being marked in the initial two weeks despite tireless efforts by the team. Only the IP address from which the email was sent to various news agencies was found. It was U.S national Ken Haywood from whose IP address the threatening email was sent. He used to live in the Sanpada area of New Mumbai. His residence was raided by the ATS officials on 27th July 2008 soon after tracing the IP address. But the real culprits were yet to be traced.

After two and half weeks of futile efforts, one day Abhay Chudasama received a call from the informer. He heard a ‘Pakki Khabar’ from the other end. The informer in Bharuch had seen the red and white car used in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts. Within minutes, DCP Chudasama left for Bharuch. He was accompanied by IPS officer GL Singhal and DSP Mayur Chavda.

The terrorists made bombs in this house in the Sherpura area of Bharuch. Image source: TV9 Gujarat

Officers reached the spot as told by the informers. The house they raided gave them the first lead. The terrorists had made a few of the bombs in the same house. The interrogations of the house owner revealed a phone number. And this phone number was the master key that went on to open the locks of not only the Ahmedabad blasts but also the locks of the bomb blast cases in other major cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Jaipur.

Abhay Chudasama into Action

While on the return journey from Bharuch to Ahmedabad, all the three top officers were brainstorming on how to break the network as early as possible. The challenges that followed were to build a strong case against the ones they were going to catch. This whole exercise of getting leads, raiding the spots, arresting the suspects, interrogating them, collecting the evidence, and framing the charges was not going to be an easy task. It needed a systematically planned and output-oriented effort.

As per a report by News18, at this point in time, Abhay Chudasama designed a strategy for teamwork and every officer in his team supported him wholeheartedly. The first step taken by Chudasama was to break the officers into different teams and assign them dedicated tasks to execute in cohesion with each other.

Abhay Chudasama and IPS officer Himanshu Shukla joined the technical surveillance team because all major leads were going to be received from that front. The most important part of the interrogations was headed by the experienced IPS officer GL Singhal. He was assisted by DSP Mayur Chavda.

The same gang of terrorists was behind the bomb attacks in multiple cities pan India. Image Source: India Today

Picking up the suspects as per the leads revealed in the interrogations was a tricky job. DSP Rajendra Asari headed this team of officers. Mayur Chavda was also involved in this team as he was also a member of the interrogation team. DSP Rajendra Asari’s team too had a very responsible job because after the interrogations, gathering the evidence together in a definite order and preparing the witness is extremely important to build a strong case.

Usha Rada, Jitendra Yadav, J. D. Purohit, Bharat Patel, Tarun Barot, and VR Toliya were among the other brave officers who were involved in these different multi-layered teams working in concurrence with each other.

Connecting The Dots

The technical surveillance team received some more clues. According to these clues, suspects were being picked up one after the other. The teams were ensuring almost zero time lag between receiving the information and catching the suspects. Jahid Sheikh was the first to be arrested on this lead. The links to this case unfolded and it was revealed that it was a grand pan India conspiracy.

The Lucknow connection, in this case, was revealed in the interrogations and the inputs from the technical team. On 13th August 2008, IPS Himanshu Shukla and DSP Mayur Chavda were in Lucknow to arrest Mufti Abu Bashir who was the biggest arrest in this case till then. CM Narendra Modi had sent a special flight for these officers to ensure that the terrorist don’t get any chance to escape. Mufti Abu Bashir was brought to Gujarat on this special flight. Modi was being informed by Amit Shah about every minute detail of this case.

Exposing the Biggest Terrorist Network

As the suspects were being arrested one after the other, IPS officer GL Singhal and his team were conducting their interrogations continuously. Every interrogation would reveal some new name from some new state. First, it was Ahmedabad, then Bhuj, then Bharuch, then Surat, and suddenly it started going out of the state.

The first among the other states was Uttar Pradesh. The further revelations made the police teams raise their eyebrows. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, and whatnot.

As the script was unfolding through the statements of the arrested culprits, the biggest terrorist network active in the country at that time was being exposed. With every single location named in their statements, a separate team was immediately being sent to that location to arrest the suspects immediately.

The Arrests

The day Mufti Abu Bashir and his allies were brought to Gujarat, these different teams had caught 10 more accused from different locations. The total number of arrests on that single day was 13. Everyone was being interrogated separately. More information came out. The technical surveillance team was already prepared with its equipment. The officers located and arrested 30 more accused within the next two days.

2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts
Mufti Abu Bashir Kasmi was arrested in Lucknow and brought to Gujarat by a special flight. Image Source:

On the independence day of India, that is within 19 days of starting the investigations, the team had exposed and arrested the biggest terrorist network active in the country at that time. These were the same terrorists who had executed bomb blasts in various cities including Hyderabad, Varanasi, Bangalore, and Jaipur before the Ahmedabad bomb blasts. The police of these different states were still searching for the basic clues while the Gujarat police led by Abhay Chudasama had arrested the culprits of every single terror attack mentioned above.

This network was called Indian Mujahidin as they had identified themselves in the threat email. It was the same old SIMI that is the Students Islamic Movement of India in its new form. Gujarat police had broken its backbone in the investigation of a single incident. The blow was so heavy that the terror outfit has not yet recovered from the tremors and aftershocks. It is notable that at the time of the attacks, there was a BSP government in Uttar Pradesh, a Congress government in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and a newly formed two months old BJP government in Karnataka.

The Modus Operandi

Ahmedabad crime branch arrested 78 accused suspects. 13 from Ahmedabad, 5 from Vadodara, 1 from Bharuch, 1 from Bhuj, 2 from Surat, 11 from Maharashtra, 12 from Madhya Pradesh, 10 from Karnataka, 9 from Uttar Pradesh, 5 from Kerala, 3 from Andhra Pradesh, 3 from Rajasthan, 2 from Jharkhand, and 1 from Bihar. When 30 accused were arrested at once, the role of SIMI was exposed.

The Ahmedabad bomb blasts were planned as early as December 2007. The terrorists were trained in the jungles of Waghamon (Kerala) and Pawagarh (Gujarat). Gujarat DGP PC Pande had announced the arrest of Mufti Abu Bashir. At that time, he had said “Mufti had paid frequent visits to Gujarat and the Ahmedabad and Surat terror strikes were planned during a camp held in January 2008 in the forests of Pavagadh, 50 km from Vadodara.”

Many participants of that training camp were already arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police well before the blasts actually took place. When their role was revealed, they were taken into custody by a transfer warrant. It is notable here that Shivraj Singh Chouhan of BJP was the CM of Madhya Pradesh at that time.

Revealing the planning part of these attacks, Ashish Bhatia, the then joint commissioner of the crime branch of Ahmedabad police, had said “Bashar planned the attacks in the house of Yunus Mansuri in Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad. Raw material for making the bombs arrived from Madhya Pradesh and a house in the Vatva area of Ahmedabad was rented by the group to make the bombs. While some bombs were made at Yunus’ residence, the rest were manufactured in Vadodara and sent to Surat.”

The crime branch officer also informed that the two cars that were turned into deadly bombs in the Civil Hospital and L G Hospital blasts in Ahmedabad were stolen from Mumbai by SIMI activists from MP. The same cars were then handed over to the terrorist group in the Vapi town of Gujarat. The car lifters stayed in the house of the SIMI terrorist Sajid Mansuri in Bharuch. It was Sajid Mansuri whose arrest started the unfolding of this whole plot. These cars were later brought to Ahmedabad where bombs were fitted into them.

The car used in Ahmedabad bomb blasts. Image Source: Times of India

Other bombs were planted in tiffin carriers on bicycles. The bicycles were procured second-hand from local markets and used for the blasts. A similar pattern was used by the terrorists in the Jaipur bomb blasts that took place on 13th May 2008. Many of the blasts targeted the city bus service of AMTS (Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Services), ripping apart portions of the vehicles.

Two blasts took place in two of the biggest hospitals in the city after the gap of half an hour from the initial bomb blasts. One of the blasts in the hospitals occurred when injured victims of the initial series of blasts were being admitted there. This was planned with the intent of increasing the count of the casualties and rooting the fear among the people that the hospitals where they would rush for medical help are also unsafe.

The civil hospital trauma center after the blast. Image Source: Times of India

The trauma center in the hospital houses the most critical patients. The terrorists targeted the trauma center of the civil hospital of Ahmedabad to kill those innocents. The blast at this hospital claimed maximum lives on that day.

More Explosives Recovered and Defused

Another bomb was found and defused on the following day in the Hatkeshwar area. Two live bombs were also retrieved from Maninagar which was the constituency of the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

Gujarat police recovered and defused two more bombs in Surat, another major city in Gujarat, a day after the Ahmedabad blasts. Two cars filled with materials required to make explosives, including detonators, were also found, one of them parked on a roadside near a hospital, and the other in the outskirts of Surat.

On 29th July 2008, the police defused 18 more bombs in Surat. They were placed majorly in the diamond market. In all the incidents executed and the bombs recovered, there were primarily the explosives having a low-intensity blast capacity, but in all those cases, they were placed in the highly crowded areas of the city. The aim was to cause the maximum damage by the blasts and the subsequent stampedes in the minimum possible resources.

Similar explosives were found and defused in different cities in the subsequent days as the whole nation was on high alert considering the arrests from the various states.

2008 Ahmedabad bomb blasts
A report covering major details of the Ahmedabad bomb blast case. Courtesy: Dainik Bhaskar

The Trials

35 different cases were merged into one which was heard in a special court of Justice AR Patel in Ahmedabad. The trial began in 2009 and lasted for about 13 years. The hearing was concluded in September 2021. Earlier this month, the court announced that 28 accused were acquitted while 49 were convicted. The nation now awaits the punishments to be given to these culprits.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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