PATNA: Five people were killed on Sunday in seven low-intensity serial blasts in Patna of which six bombs went off in and around the venue of Narendra Modi’s mega rally at Gandhi Maidan shortly before his address before a huge gathering.
A total of 83 people were also injured in the bomb explosions between 9:30 am and 11:45 am in which timers were also used.
Just a couple of hours before the six multiple explosions, a crude bomb went off in a newly constructed toilet at Platform 10 at the Patna railway station, two kilometres from the venue of BJP’s ‘Hunkar (battle cry) rally’ of the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
Four people have been detained in Patna, police said, adding that one of them caught fleeing from the blast site at the railway station appeared to be the prime suspect. Some documents and a list of telephone numbers were recovered from the prime suspect whose identity was not revealed.
The Jharkand police said some of the suspects hailed from Jharkand. “Many of the suspects in the serial bomb blasts in Patna are from Jharkhand,” Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S N Pradhan said in Ranchi.
Five low-intensity blasts occurred on the outer periphery of the Gandhi Maidan, Union home secretary Anil Goswami said in Delhi. One bomb went off before the Eliphistine cinema hall on the western side of the rally venue, police said. Tens of thousands of people had gathered at the rally venue.
Immediately after the explosion at the railway station, bomb disposal team swept the area and recovered two more crude bombs, Railway Superintendent of Police Upendra Kumar Sinha said. One security personnel was injured while defusing a bomb recovered from the toilet, he said. People were seen rushing the injured to the hospital as the explosions sparked panic. At the rally, plumes of smoke billowed from a couple of sites even as BJP leaders, including Modi, addressed the crowd. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed for calm. He spoke to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and asked him to speedily probe the blasts and ensure that perpetrators are punished.
The Home Ministry sought a report from the Bihar government on the explosions and has sent teams of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Security Guard (NSG) to the state. “I can’t say whether it was a terror attack or political conspiracy. Only after the investigation, we will be able to tell anything,” Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh said.
Modi later said he was saddened at the blasts. “Blasts in Patna are deeply saddening and unfortunate. Condolences with families of deceased and prayers with injured. I appeal for peace and calm,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said in a tweet. Hours after the blasts, one live bomb was found at Gandhi maidan and it was being defused, police said. The entire maidan was also being searched thoroughly.
Singh said besides the Prime Minister, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had also spoken to the Chief Minister. Goswami said the Centre will give all assistance to the Bihar government. He said it was up to the state government to decide on what kind of arrangements were to be made for the rally.
Nitish held a meeting with chief secretary A K Sinha, Director General of Police Abhyanand and principal secretary (home) Amir Subhani on the law and order situation in the wake of the serial blasts. He also cancelled his scheduled tour to Munger where he was to address an international yoga conference.