A day after seven blasts rocked Bangalore, the capital of another BJP-ruled state was rocked by at least 17 bomb blasts. Late on Saturday, chief minister Narendra Modi confirmed 29 dead and 88 injured. Police sources said more than 100 had been injured, most of them from eastern parts of the city.
Though crude bombs strapped to cycles caused the reported blasts, combing operations launched by the city police later in the night led to the recovery of a number of live bombs planted in autorickshaws, a bus and motorcycles too.
Initial investigations indicate that timers and gelatine, a common gelling agent, were used to cause the explosions.
While the ingredients were the same as those used in Friday’s blasts in Bangalore, the method of using cycles to plant the bombs was reminiscent of the blasts in Jaipur in May this year, in four cities of Uttar Pradesh in May and November last year, and Malegaon in September 2006. Only, unlike in all the other places, older cycles were used this time around. <b1>
Also, like in the Jaipur and Uttar Pradesh blasts, a terror outfit calling itself the Indian Mujahideen had sent emails to some authorities and television channels claiming responsibility for the acts. This time, they even dared the authorities to try and prevent the blasts.
A pattern in the plants?
The first blast occurred around 6.40 pm in Maninagar, the Assembly constituency of Narendra Modi. Within few minutes, the second one went off at the Sardar Patel diamond market in Bapunagar, the scene of an intense agitation by diamond cutting and polishing workers just a fortnight back.
Thereafter, reports of blasts from other areas of the city started pouring in. Even as ambulances were carrying the injured to hospitals, a bomb went off near the Civil Hospital in Asarwa. The last one was reported over an hour after the first one. By this time, panic had gripped the city, traffic had choked along vital stretches, and the authorities were apprehensive of the possibility of even more strikes.
Shops and other establishments in many areas of the city quickly pulled down shutters in apprehension of more trouble.
Since the first blast, and also probably the sixth, happened in the Chief Minister’s constituency, it is believed that those responsible intended to send a stern message to Modi, who has taken an aggressive stance on fighting terrorism not only in Gujarat but all over the country.
Though the first few blasts were of low intensity, they were enough to shatter the windowpanes of the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service buses in the vicinity. The later blasts were more powerful and set some nearby vehicles afire.
Though Gujarat was on high alert after Friday’s blasts in Bangalore, Saturday’s incidents indicate that the police did not take the alert too seriously, or were incapable of acting on the cues.
An Intelligence Bureau official says that the aim behind the blasts on Friday and Saturday seems to be one of spreading fear across the country and demonstrate the capabilities of the terrorists in pulling off such immaculately synchronized attacks that need a high degree of technical prowess and trained manpower.