26/11: electronic evidence no clincherJun 23rd, 2009 | By Editor | Category: Backgrounders
Mumbai: The closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) on the night of 26/11 is no match for the copious oral evidence of witnesses in the Mumbai terror attacks case. The poor quality and absence of original recording makes the electronic material secondary evidence, useful only for corroboration.
Two videos of the scenes at the station on 26/11 were played at the special sessions court at Arthur Road Jail on Thursday. The first video of 1.24 GB, shows Jillu Yadav of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) throwing a plastic chair in the direction of the two attackers, Mohammad Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab’ and Abu Ismail, at 10.06 p.m. A bit of smoke from firing is also visible in the film.
In the second video file of 1.45 GB, one sees ‘Kasab’ and Ismail’s movements on Platform one of the local line area. At 9.59 p.m., there are passengers on the platform. After they have gone, the assailants are seen exiting the station at 10.09 p.m. They return after eight minutes, move about and finally leave the platform at 10.17 p.m. from the side of the Times of India building, which faces one side of the CST.
None of the faces, including that of ‘Kasab’ and Ismail, is clearly visible in the footage. The material comprises nothing more than unidentifiable, blurred and dark figures darting about in jerky movements.
When the prosecution wanted to ascertain that the man in the first film was Mr. Yadav, Judge M.L. Tahaliyani advised against it. “Even if Mr. Yadav identifies himself in the footage, his testimony will be questionable because of the poor quality of the video,” he noted.
There are 21 CCTV cameras installed at the CST. None, however, captured the gory scenes after the terrorists entered from the main line area, as the main line cameras were not working on 26/11. They were under maintenance. Only six cameras on the local line recorded some movements of passengers and the terrorists.
Witness Sandeep Thiradkar, an RPF officer in-charge of the maintenance of the cameras, said he copied the material from the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) onto a CD.
The original material on the DVR is not available as the system automatically deletes the footage after seven days.