Seven persons were killed and 30 injured in a powerful blast in Athgaon area in Guwahati on Saturday. The bomb was hidden in an auto-rickshaw parked in front of an apartment near Marwary Maternity Hospital.
The majority of the population in Athgaon — a busy trading area — are Hindi-speaking. Most of the victims were small traders and daily wagers. Four have been identified. All the injured have been admitted to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital.
The scene after the blasts was macabre. Two victims, a rickshaw puller and his passenger, lay slumped over, their heads severed. The rickshaw was crossing another carrying a gas cylinder when the bomb exploded and the cylinder, hit by splinters, also blew up.
IGP (law and order) DK Pathak said the bomb was an improvised explosive device and its impact was heightened due to the cylinder blast. “We have deployed more security personnel in sensitive areas. This is one of the major blasts to have occurred in the state,” Pathak said.
Saturday’s blast is the second in Athgaon in two weeks. On May 14, two persons were killed and 20 injured when a bomb went off in the same area opposite the maternity hospital. The locals blamed the police for failing to prevent the blasts. About 500 of them gathered in the area and raised anti-police slogan.
The Assam Police intelligence had received inputs that the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) were planning strikes in crowded areas in the capital just as the Tarun Gogoi government planned to celebrate the completion of one year in power on Sunday, ADG Sibabrata Kakoty said. To thwart the outfit, the police had altered all the police stations in the city. Kakoty claimed the Ulfa was behind this blast.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while condemning the blast, said “such violent acts only harm the lives of innocent people.” Singh has been elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam.
Bomb recovered from train
A major tragedy was averted on Saturday when a powerful bomb was recovered from a compartment of the Tinsukia-bound Brahmaputra Mail at Kokrajhar railway station. Some passengers complained to the GRPF and RPF about an unclaimed lunch box in their compartment, a railway official said. “Security forces confirmed the box contained a time bomb weighing nine kgs. The army’s bomb squad defused it,” the official said.