In 2003, the city froze in terrified episodes, as blasts shamed two other icons, the Gateway of India and the jewellery hub of Zaveri Bazar. The series of blasts kept on occurring thereafter. In 2006, serial blasts tore through its busy suburban train network during peak hour rush, killing more than 180 people. At 18:45 IST on Monday, 2 December 2002, a bomb was placed under a seat of a B.E.S.T. bus exploded near the busy Ghatkopar station. The bomb was placed in the rear of a bus near the station and killed two people and injured over 50. Ghatkopar being the final stop, all the passengers in the bus had just alighted and passengers for the return trip had not yet entered the bus. The people who were killed were those present in the busy bus station area. Later, the police defused an unexploded bomb from another BEST bus in SEEPZ industrial area at Andheri. The convicts in the 25 August 2003 Mumbai bombings, the twin bomb blasts in Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India also confessed to planting the unexploded bomb in the bus in SEEPZ area in suburban Mumbai. Then the police arrested several suspects for the blast. All were acquitted in the following trials. One of the arrested was Khwaja Yunus, who died in police custody due to cruelty caused by cops. The accused policemen were being tried in a fast track court. Look at the irony, the one who died in police custody was not a saint for sure and the police those accused of death were facing legal actions against them.
These cops were under tremendous media and court trials. Some journalists went on calling them corrupts and dirty harries, those days the media were divided. Some were hell-bent on emphasizing the human rights of suspects and accused persons in blasts, and some were rational enough in calling it a spread. More than the suspects, those innocents who were killed in the blast too deserved justice. But we all know how our judiciary functions, Mumbai was scared and tarnished in so-called revenge. This was the first in a series of five bombings against the city within a period of fewer than nine months.
Formerly, in November 2008, there was a 60-hour siege of the city in what turned out to be the largest terror strike in India. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels, and a Jewish cultural center claimed 166 lives. It drew Mumbai and India into global terror, and was the true successor to the 1993 bombings, in terms of trauma. Sachin Vaze was part of the encounter squad with former police inspector Pradeep Sharma, now a Shiv Sena worker who contested and faced a humiliating defeat in 2019 on Sena’s ticked. Retired ACP Praful Bhosle, police inspector Dayanand Nayak and others in the Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) of the Mumbai Police. Vaze was accused of covering up the custodial death. He has also been charged with creating a scene that Yunus escaped from the custody near Partner in Ahmednagar district while he was taking him to Parbhani for investigation. There were many theories and trials in this case but somewhere, Waze was boasting confident of his “innocence” in this case. Investigations by the state CID in 2003 found that Waze’s escape theory was false and that Yunus actually died in police custody. Waze was suspended for being responsible for Yunus’ death. Later, in 2007, the investigations were getting lengthy and Sachin resigned from the Police force and joined Shiv Sena. But in 2020, after Maha Vikas Aghadi came to power with Shiv Sena leader as CM, Vaze was taken back to the department.
Yunus’ elder brother Sayyed Khwaja Hussain, says his brother’s death has destroyed the family. His father Sayyed Khwaja Ayub, a retired official with the state government’s health department, died in 2004 because of the shock of Yunus’ death. His mother Aasiya Begum, has filed a habeas corpus petition in the Bombay High Court. The family is depressed because of the delay in “justice”. Aasiya Begum, an asthma patient, who is sick most of the time, economically weak and cannot afford the frequent trips to Mumbai that is 600 km from Parbhani just to attend the court hearings. The petition was followed by a notice sent to the two through a lawyer after the four policemen were reinstated last month as per a decision by a review committee headed by the police chief. The Bombay high Court directed Mumbai police commissioner’s office to file a reply on a petition filed by Asiya Begam, in connection with the reinstatement of four suspended policemen facing trial for his custodial death. In a reply sent by the office of the commissioner of police on June 22 to the initial contempt notice sent on behalf of Begam, the police had said the 2004 order of the High Court was complied with as the men were suspended after the order. It also said that the order did not have any specific directions regarding the reinstatement of the men.