Heckled by angry relatives of victims of police firing on protesters, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy on Saturday apologised for the police action but ruled out a central probe into the firing and a bomb blast at a mosque in Hyderabad.
The chief minister apologised when he and union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited Friday's blast site at the Mecca Masjid.
As the convoy of Patil and Reddy entered the old city, angry protestors greeted them with black flags. Shouting slogans against the government, the protestors tried to prevent them from entering the mosque.
Police swung into action to control the youth and the two leaders accompanied by some state ministers and senior officials entered the mosque. However, they faced the irate relatives of the victims.
They shouted slogans of "Police zulum (repression) down, down" and "We want CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry". "We don't want money. We want CBI inquiry".
Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who was present on the occasion, strongly protested the police firing. It was at this stage that the chief minister admitted that the police were wrong in opening fire on the mob and apologised for the same.
When the protestors pressed for a CBI probe into the blast and police firing, Reddy said he was ready to order the same.
However, at a joint news conference later with Patil, the chief minister said a CBI inquiry could be ordered only after preliminary investigations into the blast. "We have no objection in ordering CBI or judicial probe or both but the union home minister suggested to us to go into the entirety of the situation before recommending a CBI probe," he said.
He said the central investigating agency was already finding it difficult to cope with the large number of cases entrusted to it.
The bomb blast and police firing have claimed 16 lives.
The police firing, which claimed five lives, has angered the people and the MIM has alleged that the firing was unprovoked and that some of those trying to help the injured were shot.
Patil later left for Nizam's Institute of Medical Science (NIMS) where some of the injured have been admitted.
Earlier, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu visited the blast site and visited the injured at a hospital. Alleging that the state government failed to take precautions despite a warning from the union home ministry and central intelligence agencies, Naidu demanded a CBI probe.
He announced that the TDP would give Rs 100,000 each to the kin of those killed and Rs 10,000 to each of the injured.