A woman and a police constable were killed and 15 injured in a crude bomb explosion on Ara civil court premises in Bihar’s Bhojpur district on Friday, triggering alarm ahead of Republic Day.
A few hours after the blast at 11.35am, police ruled out a terror link, saying it was more likely aimed at aiding some undertrial prisoners escape. Two of them did.
Undertrial prisoners Lambu Sharma and Akhilesh Upadhyay escaped after the blast, taking advantage of the chaos.
Police suspect the woman killed in the blast had carried the bomb. Her identity has not been established. Her body was blown to pieces. “This shows she was closest to the impact site,” said a police official.
The deceased constable was named as Amit Kumar, 25.
A senior police officer said the woman might have had some links with some prisoner. “It is a matter of investigation.”
Bihar chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said, “The blast took place while the bomb was being passed on to an intended person, apparently, for the release of some prisoner or prisoners. It went off prematurely, it seems.”
He dismissed initial talk of “human bomb” and “suicide bomber”.
Additional director general of police (headquarters) Gupteshwar Pandey said the explosion took place when a van carrying undertrials for production in the court entered the premises. The undertrials were being taken to the court lock-up.
“The woman was apparently carrying the bomb. It was a crude bomb,” he said, ruling out the possibility of the blast being a terror attack.
Bhojpur district magistrate Pankaj Kumar Pal said some lawyers were among the injured. “We have come to know of (injuries to) three lawyers. Some police officials have also sustained injuries. The injured have been taken to the local civil hospital,” he added.
The blast in Ara, about 60km west off capital Patna, initially rattled the state administration.
Apart from the general state of preparedness for Republic Day, police were also on their toes for two meetings to be addressed in the state during the day by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah.
Bihar police did not take chances given that serial blasts had rocked Gandhi Maidan in Patna during Narendra Modi's (then the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate) Hunkar rally in October 2013.