Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy on Saturday evening asserted that the bomb blast at the Mecca Masjid during Friday prayers was a "terror attack" and the needle of suspicion definitely pointed "towards a foreign hand". He further said that it was a terrorist attack and not a communal incident.
Reddy said that the Central government and the state government were fully aware that the terrorists might target Hyderabad but there were no specific inputs on the places they would target.
"There are lot of clues in connection with yesterday’s incident and the culprits will be brought to book soon," he said and added that he did not want to disclose anything more as this juncture as it would hamper the investigations and the culprits would be alerted.
Not withstanding mounting public outcry over the police role and particularly the firing on receding people, Reddy gave a clean chit to the state police. "The spontaneous action of the police after yesterday’s incident had averted major communal riots. If the police had not initiated immediate action, the situation today would have been different," he added.
He said the Cabinet has decided to extend all possible assistance to the kith and kin of the victims and also provide treatment to the injured at corporate hospitals. The Cabinet observed two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the victims.
The Cabinet also decided to instruct the administration to train volunteers and staff of religious places of worship to create awareness among them to avert this kind of incidents in the future. The employees of the Mecca Masjid, which is maintained by the Minorities Welfare Department, would also be given training in this regard.
Chief minister said that the state government has made elaborate bandobust for the three-day mass congregation of Muslims (Ijtema of Tabligh-e-Jamaat) on the outskirts of the city. Over two lakh people from all over the country are attending the congregation, he added.
He said that the situation in the city and the state was normal with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere but for a stray case of stone-pelting at Bhavinagar, I which two policemen were injured.
Home Minister K Jana Reddy told the media that as many as 16 people died, including nine in the bomb blast, five in police firing and the cause of death of two others was yet to be established. In all, 64 people sustained injuries. Three persons were discharged and the remaining injured persons were undergoing in the city hospitals like Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Yashoda Hospital, Owaisi Hospital and Care Hospital.
The home minister said that 92 platoons of armed police, including the Rapid Action Force, Central Reserve Police Force, City Armed Reserve and Greyhounds were deployed in the old city.
Minority Affairs Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir said that the police had withdrawn surveillance cameras and horse-mounted police which were deployed near Mecca Masjid every Friday on the request of Muslim elected representatives and religious leaders as they alleged that Muslims coming to prayers were being frisked and checked as if they were rowdy-sheeters and unsocial elements.