Locals, police clash; curfew imposed in Malegaon
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Locals, police clash; curfew imposed in Malegaon

Curfew was imposed in Malegaon on Friday to prevent an escalation of violence after two powerful bombs rocked the powerloom township.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2006 03:56 IST

Curfew was imposed in Malegaon on Friday to prevent an escalation of violence after two powerful bombs rocked the powerloom township just after the noon namaaz. The state has also been put on high alert.

The simultaneous blasts occurred at Mushaira Chowk and Bada Kabrastan- the areas are about 1 km apart- at 1.50 pm.

Over 31 people were killed and 125 injured.

Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, who also holds the Home portfolio, is camping in the town to monitor the situation, but already, the area is tense.

An angry mob of 600 attacked the Azad Nagar police station and pelted it with stones, injuring seven policemen. The police were finally forced to open fire to quell the violence. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, state Director General of Police Dr PS Pasricha told reporters in Mumbai that the blasts occurred within a kilometre of each other, and just 2 km from the spot where the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) seized a large cache of arms and ammunition in May.

Pasricha also said the death and injury toll is likely to go up.

“An ATS team has been rushed to the area,” he added. “Additional companies of the State Reserve Police Force, Rapid Action Force and riot control police have also been positioned in the trouble spots.”

The police have yet to ascertain the type of explosives used and are waiting for the reports from the central scientific laboratory.

Asked whether Hindu fundamentalist organisations could be involved in the blasts, Dr Pasricha said he could not comment on such a question in the absence of any solid evidence. He did add, however, that the purpose of the blasts was obviously to create a communal divide in Malegaon, which was already “a sensitive place”.

“Following the July 11 serial train bombings in Mumbai, adequate force had been deployed in Malegaon to maintain law and order in anticipation of communal disturbances,” Dr Pasricha said. “Even at Bada Kabrastan, one of the blast sites, the police had made adequate security arrangements on Friday.”

Asked whether the incident reflected a failure of intelligence, the DG replied, “We keep receiving intelligence inputs on subversive designs, but they are not specific.”

He said Maharashtra had become a prime target for terrorists in recent times “because the state is the most progressive and any violence here gets maximum publicity”. It also has the maximum impact on the country, he added. “This incident shows that, more than the police, it is the people’s participation that is an essential requirement in the security build-up,” he added.

First Published: Sep 09, 2006 03:56 IST