A day after the powerful blast in Ganga Arti at Old Dashwashamedh Ghat (Shitla Ghat) in Varanasi, investigators are piecing together samples from blast site, intelligence inputs and other crucial evidences.
Team of forensic experts from Agra began collecting and testing samples at the blast site since Wednesday morning, while top intelligence officials from Lucknow and New Delhi, besides higher ups of Mumbai Police have joined investigators in Varanasi.
Sources in the Forensic Team from Agra at work on the blast site, confided to the HT that around 3.5 kg Amonium Nitrate could have been used in the explosive, which killed a little girl and injured around 40 others.
It’s still not clear whether IED was used to trigger the explosive or not as no circumstantial evidence from the blast site could be found till now to corroborate the use of IED.
Also, small pieces of aluminum have been recovered from the blast site, making it clear that Aluminum was used in tandem with Amonium Nitrate in the low-medium intensity explosive.
DIG (Varanasi) Prem Prakash told HT on Wednesday, “there is no breakthrough in the case as the probe is still in initial stages. We’re piecing whatever evidence is available to arrive at any logical conclusion and it would be too premature to comment anything right now.”
A team of Mumbai Police also arrived along with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in Varanasi to streamline investigations.
Sources in the team confided that the mail purportedly sent to certain media houses by Indian Mujahideen operatives was sent from a Navi Mumbai area using a WI-FI connection.
“It’s the second time the WI-FI connection has been hacked in Mumbai to send hate mail by the IM operatives. First time it was hacked by the IM after the German Bakery attack in Pune in Febaruary 2010,” one of the Mumbai Police officials said.
Intelligence sleuths are also working on possibility of IM mastermind sitting in Pakistan to trigger the Tuesday evening blast in the Ganga Arti.
Work is underway to trace the route of IM from East UP to Nepal and also the sleeper modules of IM and SIMI working in disguised names particularly in East UP districts.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram flew to Varanasi early on Wednesday. He visited hospitals, including BHU Hospitals where injured are being treated and also took stock of blast site.
When queried about UP Chief Minister Mayawati late on Tuesday night slamming the Centre and demanding special security for sensitive cities of UP on lines of Mumbai, Chidambaram said I’m not here to create any controversy, but one thing is clear, that despite repeated alerts UP Govt/Police failed to act in time.
“On February 25, 2010, after the Pune blasts, an advisory was sent to UP govt. alerting specifically about Dashwashamedh Ghat and its sensitivity to terror attack. Many reminders have been sent by central agencies to UP Govt on same lines, latest on December 5, 2010 specifically related to Ayodhya demolition anniversary, but still the state establishment did nothing.”
The Union Home Minister said the Tuesday blast could have been averted had the state acted timely on central intelligence inputs.
“Alertness should be on all days of the year and not on some important or sensitive dates alone.”
He further said a team of forensic experts from New Delhi will also join investigators in Varanasi within a few hours.
Earlier on intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, UP CM Mayawati rushed to Varanasi and took stock of the blast site, besides meeting with victims of the blast in different hospitals.
Talking to journalists near the blast site, the UP CM said she would write to Prime Minister and Union Home Minister for special security (on lines of post 26/11 in Mumbai) be rendered to all sensitive cities in UP.
A day after the blast, the riveting riverfront, which buzzes with activity in the morning and evening, was not as ebullient as earlier.
It was more electronic media crews, cops, intelligence sleuths and forensic experts and less the locales who were present at Dashwashamedh (Old and New).
Protesting against the blast, boatmen went on strike, leaving the river sans any plying boats from Assi to Raj Ghat (seven km).
Also, BJP observed Varanasi Bandh, which evoked significant response in all areas of Varanasi, surprisingly also the Muslim dominated areas of Dalmandi and Nai Sarak, where traders downed their shutters voluntarily.
Death toll remained one, just the little girl Swastika, while a 49-year-old lady Phoolmani from Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh, is in comatose state and on life support system at the ICU of BHU Hospital.
In total 26 injured are still being treated at different hospitals, including Alexander Monkerly, an Italian national.