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Beaten? Never

A DAY after 28 people died in the twin blasts, the atmosphere remained charged in this temple town. The BJP-sponsored bandh was a success, some politicians came visiting, many devotees stayed away from temples and protesters fought pitched battles with the police.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2006 13:53 IST

Encounters and protests

A DAY after 28 people died in the twin blasts, the atmosphere remained charged in this temple town. The BJP-sponsored bandh was a success, some politicians came visiting, many devotees stayed away from temples and protesters fought pitched battles with the police.

Amid indications that the blasts were executed in a planned manner, the Uttar Pradesh government ordered a probe by the Special Task Force of the state police.

Three suspected terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) were shot dead by the police in New Delhi and Lucknow. A large cache of arms and explosives was recovered from them.

The Delhi Police said the shooting took place in the Bawana area of west Delhi. They said the two terrorists killed were wanted in several terror attacks in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

In Lucknow, STF sleuths gunned down Salar alias Saleem, the UP chief of the LeT, in an exchange of fire. The police did not confirm Salar’s involvement in triggering Tuesday’s explosions.

Politicians made a beeline for Varanasi in the wake of the blasts. Congress president Sonia Gandhi called for a joint probe; BJP chief Rajnath Singh urged people to refrain from playing Holi; BSP chief Mayawati demanded the imposition of president’s rule; UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav faced hostile reception and black flags.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who visited the town late on Tuesday, said explosives hidden inside a pressure cooker and a timer device were used to trigger the blast at Sankat Mochan temple. He said more people lost their lives at the railway station.

So far the needle of suspicion has pointed towards the involvement of the LeT. ADG (law and order) A. Palnivel said the LeT was the prime suspect. But it is too early to rule out the involvement of other terror outfits at this stage.

Explosives experts said the terrorists apparently used a mixture of ammonium nitrate with RDX and other explosive material for the blasts. The postmortem report of those killed in the blasts suggests the use of high-intensity explosives.

"While conducting a postmortem on the dead, we found small round-shaped aluminium pieces inside the bodies," Dr Sunil Kumar Tripathi, head, department of forensic medicine, Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, told HT. "This indicates that the container made of aluminium, in which the explosive had been kept, melted before piercing into the bodies."

Normal religious activities were partially affected at various prominent temples. Only 2,000 devotees performed prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple -- on normal days, the figure is over 10,000.

First Published: Mar 09, 2006 13:53 IST