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UAPA invoked as IED blast at Bengaluru cafe injures nine

By, Bengaluru
Mar 02, 2024 07:56 AM IST

Visuals from the immediate aftermath of the blast showed panicked people running away from the explosion site

Nine people were wounded after a low-intensity bomb exploded in a busy restaurant in Bengaluru on Friday afternoon, prompting a multi-agency probe with preliminary investigations zeroing in on a man who left an unidentified bag near the cash counter.

Bengaluru: Police personnel at the Rameshwaram Cafe after a blast, in Bengaluru, Friday, March 1, 2024.(PTI)
Bengaluru: Police personnel at the Rameshwaram Cafe after a blast, in Bengaluru, Friday, March 1, 2024.(PTI)

Police officials familiar with the matter said that they have recovered a battery and a timer from the blast site, indicating that the explosion was premeditated, but added that no arrests have been made so far.

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Visuals from the immediate aftermath of the blast showed panicked people running away from the explosion site, sheltering themselves from shattered glass, strewn furniture, smoke and fire.

Alok Mohan, Karnataka director general of police (DGP) said that the blast left nine people injured.

Also Read | How Rameshwaram cafe blast took place: Man ordered idli, left bag with 1-hr timer IED

“Forensic teams have collected evidence from the ground and we have also seized CCTV footage from the explosion site. It appears to be a low-intensity crude bomb blast.”

A popular eating joint, the cafe records a heavy rush of customers, particularly during the lunch hours.

In the minutes that followed, teams from the fire brigade and the police rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area, even as a team of forensic experts collected evidence from the site of the explosion.

Later in the afternoon, a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) also visited the mangled restaurant.

“We have found a battery and a timer at the blast site which shows it could be a timed explosive device. Preliminary findings show that the material used in the bomb was of low quality but more details will emerge once the forensic reports are in,” one police inspector, part of the investigation team, told reporters at the site.The police have registered a case under sections of the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act.

Also Read | Rameshwaram cafe owner's 1st reaction, rivalry angle, politics, suspect profile: What we know so far

Later in the evening, Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar, who visited the site of the blast with home minister G Parameshwara said that investigators had identified a man in his mid-30s who entered the restaurant around noon.

“He took a token and ate some semolina idli,” he said, adding that the blast took place at 12:.5pm in a bag that the man had left behind, likely triggered by a timer inside.

Parameshwara said that the police were closely looking at CCTV images to track the suspects movements after 12 pm.

The managing director of Rameshwaram Café, a restaurant that opened in 2021, who identified herself only as Divya, said that there may have been two quick explosions, less than 10 seconds apart.

“The first explosion was near the cash counter and then there was chaos. I don’t know where the second explosion took place,” she said.

A security guard stationed at the café said that the blast took place at a time when the restaurant is often busy, with many people that go to the offices nearby arriving for lunch.

“I was standing outside the café, and many customers had come to the hotel. Suddenly there was a loud sound and a fire broke out. I saw people that were injured,” he said, asking not to be named.

Officials said that the nine injured include some staff of the café, but that nobody was in critical condition.

Pradeep Kumar, an official of the Brookfield Hospital where the injured were rushed, said that one woman would require plastic surgery. “Some others have some injuries in their eardrums, but their lives are not at risk,” he said.

Chief minister Siddaramaiah said that it was not yet known whether the perpetrators had organised terror links but that teams were working furiously to identify the accused.

“This is a case of an improvised explosive device. Even if it is a low amount, it can be effective,” he said.

The blast however, set off a political furore, with the BJP demanding that investigations be handed over to the NIA, and that law and order in Karnataka was a matter of concern under the Congress government. BJP state president BY Vijayendra said that the incident was a failure of police intelligence and said, “Law and order is deteriorating day by day under the Congress government.

Leader of Opposition R Ashoka said, “Whenever the Congress comes to power, terrorists and anti-national elements feel emboldened…the Congress should first ensure the guarantee of safety and security to the people of Karnataka.”

Chief minister Siddaramaiah however hit back and said there should be no politics around the blast, and that those that carried this out would be brought to book.

“There were several such incidents in the BJP government too, and this is the first in our government.The accused will be found and severely punished,” he said.

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