The death toll in the twin bomb blasts at Maur Mandi in Punjab’s Bathinda rose to six on Wednesday even as the state director general of police (DGP) called it a “targeted terrorist crime”.
Punjab DGP Suresh Arora told Hindustan Times that it was an organised terror act in which bombs were planted in a vehicle with fake number plate. However, the police probe has failed to make any headway a day after the explosion. They are still not sure of the type of explosive used in the blast. No individual or outfit has owned up the crime so far.
Tuesday’s blast was the second terror incident in poll-bound Punjab in the past three weeks. On January 14, Amit Sharma, a right-wing Hindu leader, was shot dead in Ludhiana by unidentified gunmen. In his briefings to the Election Commission, Arora had flagged “credible intelligence reports” suggesting that certain foreign-based militant may stage a terror attack to create communal rift and chaos ahead of the polling day on February 4.
Meanwhile, the toll in the twin blasts rose to six as three children — Japsimran Singh, 14, Ritamdeep Singh, 9, and Saurabh Singla, 13, died on Wednesday. Three persons — Harpal Singh, Ashok Kumar, a beggar, and his daughter Barkha, 10 — were killed on Tuesday in the explosion near the poll campaign venue of Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi. Harpal is Jassi’s personal assistant. Nine injured are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Bathinda and Ludhiana.
The DGP, who visited the blast site earlier in the day, also said that two improvised explosive devices – including a pressure cooker that did not explode – were recovered. The state government has sent a report to the Union home ministry about the blasts and a team of NSG will arrive to help police in the probe.
The blasts took place a few seconds after the Congress nominee Jassi’s vehicle crossed an abandoned car in which the explosive was placed. Though shrapnel hit Jassi’s vehicle, he escaped unhurt. Jassi is a close relative of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The religious leader has been provided Z-plus security because he is on the hit-list of Sikh extremists.
The “terror attack” has vitiated the poll atmosphere in the poll-bound state, triggering an ugly war of words between top leaders of the frontline political parties. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the opposition Congress have targeted the rookie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for seeking support of the radicals ahead of the February 4 polling.
Read More | Badals link forces behind Maur blast to AAP
IEDs planted to inflict maximum casualty
Police sources said the car in which the IEDs were planted was parked at a strategic location to inflict maximum casualty. “The vehicle was parked between two trees, which means that the operator was positioned close by and used a remote to explode the device. We are trying to identify the driver of the car,” they said.
Forensic experts from the state department also examined the blast site this morning and collected samples of the half-burnt car.
Police have registered a case under Sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Explosives Act.