2003 Mumbai Blasts: Public May Have Forgotten, Survivors Cannot

Fourteen years after 52 people were killed and over 250 injured, does Mumbai still remember the 2003 twin blasts?

4 min read

25 August 2003 – A taxi exploded in the heart of Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar killing at least 29 people. The impact was so intense that glass panes of surrounding jewellery stores along a 200 metre radius lay shattered. Before the police or emergency services could kick in, another explosion, this time right next to the Gateway of India, left 25 people dead. Over 250 people were injured in the blasts.

Ramu Patil lost his right eye in the blast at Zaveri Bazaar in 2003.
(Photo: The Quint)
I remember being covered in blood soon after the blast. I took a taxi and rushed to JJ Hospital immediately. The doctors pulled out a shrapnel lodged in my right eye and showed it to me. Till date, I have not regained my vision in that eye.
Ramu Patil, 2003 Mumbai blast survivor

Forty-eight-year-old Ramchandra Gupta was one of the lucky ones to escape unscathed despite being just 50 metres away from the blast at Gateway of India. Quickly regaining his composure after the explosion, Ramchandra started rescuing those injured before ambulances could reach the spot.

Ramchandra Gupta was just 50 metres away from the Gateway of India at the time of explosion.
(Photo: The Quint)
We just registered an explosion and then everyone started running. It was very chaotic. My brother and I rushed towards Gateway of India from our samosa stall and started picking up people and putting them in taxis and sending them to the hospital.
Ramchandra Gupta, stall owner 

The modus operandi in both the attacks were the same – the bombs were planted in a taxi which exploded at a fixed time. During their investigation, the Mumbai police achieved their most important breakthrough after the taxi driver who survived the blast at the Gateway of India described the suspects in the case.

Cracking The Twin Blasts Case

Based on the description received, Mumbai police arrested the three key accused in the case – Ashrat Ansari (32), Hanif Sayed (46) and his wife Fehmida Sayed (43).

Further probe revealed that on 25 August 2003, Ansari, along with Hanif Sayed, his wife and two minor daughters, hired a taxi and reached the Gateway of India. They were carrying a bag of explosives with them, which they left in the taxi and told the cab driver that they would return after lunch. From there, they hired another taxi and reached Zaveri Bazar. Just minutes after the bomb at Gateway of India exploded, Zaveri Bazaar witnessed a similar incident.

A look at the timeline of the Mumbai 2003 twin blast case. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Motive Behind The Blasts

During their questioning, the convicted trio said that their motive for executing the terror attack was to extract revenge for the 2002 communal riots that took place in Gujarat.

Seething with anger, Ashrat Ansari, Hanif Sayed and Fehmida Sayed made their first move in July 2003. The trio planted a bomb in a BEST bus in Mumbai’s suburban Jogeshwari area. The explosion claimed two lives but unsatisfied by its impact, they plotted the deadly twin blasts in India’s financial capital. This time, killing 52 people and injuring over 250.

Due to the heinous nature of the crime, Ashrat Ansari, Hanif Sayed and Fehmida Sayed were awarded death sentence by the POTA court.

While the 1993 serial blasts and the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai continue to remain fresh in people’s minds, the 2003 twin blasts have now faded from collective memory. However, for those who witnessed the attacks and its survivors, the incident remains etched like it happened yesterday.

Ramesh Gowda injured his eye and spine in the 2003 blast at Zaveri Bazaar.
(Photo: The Quint)
I ran for shelter as soon as I heard the explosion but by then the shrapnel had already hit my eye. Because of this I fell down and hurt my back as well. I had to be rushed to the hospital immediately.
Ramesh Gowda, 2003 Mumbai blast survivor
Mohd Wasique Khan rebuilt his juice shop that was destroyed in the blast at Zaveri Bazaar.
(Photo: The Quint)
The blast occurred just about 15 feet away from my shop. My brother who was with me at the store was injured, so was another boy who worked at the shop, but by God’s grace, I escaped unharmed. But even after 14 years, I remember every single detail from 25 August 2003.
Mohd Wasique Khan, 2003 Mumbai blast survivor

Cameraperson: Sanjoy Deb

Video Editor: Kammaljiit Kainth

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