Terror comes in various shapes and forms, but rarely does it involve a common, household item like a pressure cooker. Yet, this innocent looking kitchen utensil was responsible for the single biggest terror attack on Indian soil after the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai. The conspiracy, which led to the killing of 187 passengers this August, involved the use of pressure cookers packed with RDX and ammonium nitrate which exploded on seven passenger trains. The pressure cookers also provided the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), the investigating team probing the terror attack, with the first clues that led to the breakthrough in cracking what Mumbai Police Commissioner A.N. Roy called "a blinder of a case."
Our July terror cover
Most Indians have a negative view of our police. This case, and the manner in which it was solved, is a remarkable story that reads like a thriller in terms of the investigation, the clues, the suspects, the teams and teamwork and the manner in which the ATS managed to piece together the entire plot. More compelling is the fact that all the bombers have been arrested or identified.
It is an outstanding investigation where, unlike the London blasts in July last year where the bombers were recorded on surveillance cameras, there was no way of knowing who planted the bombs and we decided to feature it on our cover this issue. This is our fifth terror-related cover this year but one that takes a positive view of how agencies like Mumbai's ATS actually operate and the kind of dedication with which they went about piecing together the fragments of the case. It also gives an insight into the meticulous planning and almost flawless execution by those who masterminded the attack.
Of course, as in every investigation of this magnitude, there are questions that remain unanswered as of now. Much of the reconstruction is based on interrogations of the bombers but the case raises serious issues: how were so many people able to cross the border so easily, how to conclusively establish the ISI involvement, and whether the evidence will stand legal scrutiny when the trials in the case finally begin. Our story also includes the official view from South Block on how it will impact the India-Pakistan peace process and also examines the issue in the context of it being the first major challenge for the joint anti-terror mechanism proposed by India and Pakistan at Havana.
The main focus of our story, however, is mainly the challenge-cracking a seemingly impossible case and the extraordinary manner in which it was done. When I read stories like these a shiver runs down my spine because it makes me realise that as we go about our daily lives we hardly know what is lurking below this seeming normalcy and that there are evil minds working towards death and destruction without giving a moment's notice.