The three cycle-bombs that killed 37 and injured more than 297 in the town of Malegaon on Friday were “very, very crude”, but had a timer, police sources in Mumbai and Malegaon told HT.
No trace was found of the sophisticated explosive RDX, often favoured by terrorists, the police said, taking care not to name either Hindu or Muslim groups as suspects.
On Saturday, the road to the Hamadiya mosque was strewn with dust-encrusted glass particles. Mixed with ball-bearings, even pieces of bangles, the glass comprised much of the shrapnel that killed and maimed worshippers.
The shrapnel did most of the killing, said an officer requesting anonymity, but its low-intensity was evident from the small portion of wall destroyed.
“We have got some leads in the course of the investigation, and we will soon find out who did this,” Director General of Police P.S. Pasricha told HT in Mumbai.
An eyewitness claimed he had seen a man in “yellow shirt and brown pants” running away from the Hamadiya mosque, but the police would not comment on this.
A special 10-member squad of the state police will probe the bombings with the state Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) and the elite National Security Guard (NSG). NSG forensic experts dispatched by Delhi landed today in Malegaon, 300 km north of Mumbai.
Malegaon is seen by the police as a recruiting ground for the outlawed Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the banned Students Islamic Movement of India. On May 9 this year, the ATS intercepted 43 kg of RDX, 16 AK-47s, 3,200 cartridges, 100 hand grenades and 100 rifle magazines in and around the city.
On Saturday, Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information that might lead to the bombers.
“It will take time to arrive at any conclusion,” said Chhagan Bhujbal, guardian minister of Nashik. Malegaon is in Nashik district and 100 km from the district headquarters.
The unease of politicians from the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party camp was evident. But their insinuations were clear.
“They should have kept a watch on the activities on Hindu extremists also after member of certain outfits were arrested in connection with the Nanded blasts last year,” said Congress spokesman Hussain Dalwai.
Last month, Nanded guardian minister Ashok Chavan had led a delegation to the Chief Minister requesting progress on a probe announced after the bombs accidentally went off at a retired Hindu engineer's house in April 2006. Two were arrested and police found explosives packed into a pipe-bomb.
“Nothing happened about the probe,” said Naseem Khan, Congress legislator from Kurla in Mumbai. DGP Pasricha said it was “too early” to link the Nanded incident with Malegaon.