At least 80 people were killed and over 150 injured in seven explosions that took place on Tuesday evening in some of the most crowded areas of Jaipur. The eighth bomb was found and defused.
Tragedy: Wailing relatives of the blast victims outside a hospital in Jaipur.
<b1>“We have information that 80 people have died,” Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria was quoted by AFP as saying. Earlier, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje told reporters that 60 people had died and 150 were injured.
State police chief AS Gill said, “Obviously, it’s a terrorist plot. The way it has been done, the attempt was to cause maximum damage.” He did not rule out the use of RDX and timer devices.
Though no one has claimed responsibility yet, security and intelligence sources said the explosions could be the handiwork of the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jehadi Islamia or the Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-Tayyeba. The home minister said one suspect had been detained and was being investigated.
This was Rajasthan’s second brush with terrorism in recent years — the last being a bomb blast at the Ajmer Sharif dargah of Moinuddin Chisti on October 11, 2007 that killed three devotees.
The Tuesday terrorist strike in Jaipur started at 7.25 pm. There were seven explosions at six places — Manak Chowk, Sanganeri Gate Hanuman Mandir, Johri Bazaar, Tripoliya, Chauti Chaupar (two explosions) and Chandpole Hanuman Mandir. Police said another bomb was defused at Chandpole Hanuman temple.
The temples were chosen obviously because Tuesdays are special for Hanuman worship, and the explosions would have the maximum impact. The bombs were carried on bicycles — or perhaps cars — to the destinations before being exploded by the terrorists.
Flowers strewn in blood at Chauti Chaupar and police helmets scattered on the Kotwali police station porch told a gruesome tale. Two bombs had exploded in quick succession at Manak Chowk and Chauti Chaupar.
Many of the flower vendors at Chauti Chaupar were injured, as bombs exploded behind the cement platform on which they displayed their flowers. Soon a bomb exploded in the premises of the Kotwali police station across the road.
Ram Babu, an eyewitness, said, “It was the sound of something heavy dropping with a thud. When we turned back we saw the injured in the parking lot outside the police station.”
Homemaker S Dangayach, 42, witnessed the heart-rending death of two children. “I saw several people running in panic. I was unable to run... I was saved by the grace of God,” she told HT at Sawai Mansingh Hospital.
At the Kotwali police station, three policemen were injured. Smashed helmets were scattered all over the place along with the mangled remains of vehicles.
Police evacuated the entire walled city within an hour of the blasts. Vehicles were prohibited from going in and people were asked to walk instead. Security officials said the cellphone network was jammed to prevent the spread of rumours.
Minutes after the evacuation, riot control vehicles, columns of rapid action force and special task force were deployed at different crossings inside the walled city, turning it into a fortress.