Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday night reiterated his government’s resolve to defeat the terrorists’ evil designs even as he called upon the people of Mumbai and J&K to remain calm and face the situation with courage and fortitude.
The PM’s statement condemning the “shameful acts” came after a high-level security meeting at his residence in wake of reports of the serial blasts in Mumbai even while New Delhi was taking stock of the security crisis caused in Srinagar by a string of grenade attacks.
On her part, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked Union home minister and the Maharashtra chief minister to ensure relief for the victims and take steps to maintain peace and harmony. In a statement, she urged people to “collectively isolate from the society” the elements behind the dastardly and inhuman acts in Mumbai.
Sonia will accompany home minister Shivraj Patil and railways minister Lalu Yadav who will leave for Mumbai for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage late on Tuesday night. Senior government officials including Union home secretary V.K. Duggal, railway board chairman J.P. Batra and DG Railway Protection Force AK Suri will also join them.
In his message after the meeting to review the security situation, the Prime Minister recalled Mumbai’s “similar trauma” a decade ago, a clear reference to the 1993 serial blasts when 13 explosions across the city killed 257 people. He went to speak of his confidence that the people have the will and courage to face this situation and will stand firm in their resolve to carry on their normal activities without succumbing to threats of terror.
President APJ Abdul Kalam also appealed for calm and asked people to assist the administration in providing relief to the injured. "The President has said such inhuman acts are condemnable out rightly and persons responsible for this should be brought to book at the earliest," a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesman said.
There was no finger pointing for the serial blasts. Singh stressed on the resolve to “work to defeat the evil designs of terrorists” and “not allow them to succeed”. But at the same time, he also urged the people to remain calm and “not believe rumours”.
Home minister Shivraj Patil acknowledged the government was still collating the information trickling in from Maharashtra and analysing the inputs. “We are in the process of getting the information… some say the death toll could be 50, some say more, some say less,” he said. Less than an hour later, the Maharashtra government said the toll could be as high as 135. And rising.