A high alert was sounded across Varanasi on Saturday after a hand grenade was found on the premises of the district court, prompting the police to seal the building and launch a search.
The recovery of the grenade -- wrapped in a polythene bag and placed beneath a stamp vending shop -- triggered panic in the temple town, with security being stepped up in key areas.
A local intelligence unit (LIU) official linked the recovery of the hand grenade to a possible gang dispute, as Brijesh Singh and other mafia dons are brought to the court regularly for appearances. However, the possibility of a terror angle is also being explored, the official said.
The grenade was spotted at around 9.30am by a team of policemen during a routine morning check, the police said. They, however, said the grenade was inactive as it didn’t have a detonator.
A bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs were called in immediately after the discovery. The court gates were sealed for a thorough search and the entire court compound was sanitised. All cases listed for hearing in the court have been postponed to Monday.
“An inactive hand grenade, which was placed near Gate Number 1 of the court compound, has been recovered. There was no detonator. It was taken to the police lines,” said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Akash Kulhary.
The SSP denied a security lapse: “Police personnel examine the court compound every morning. Owing to our alertness, the grenade was detected.”
The district police chief also ordered a thorough search of the banks of River Ganga in the city, the Kashi Vishwanath temple, Sankat Mochan temple and other high-security areas.
The district administration has decided to install closed circuit television cameras to strengthen the court security, said district magistrate Rajmani Yadav.
Varanasi is represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament. Nine people had been killed and several injured in a blast on the court premises on November 23, 2007.
With agency inputs