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One held as Ajmer shrine returns to normal

After thursday's blast, police detain one person and are examining a bag recovered from the blast site as Ajmer returned to normalcy.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2007 17:18 IST

As the revered Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer returned to normalcy on the last Friday of Ramadan after the bomb blast that left two dead and 17 injured on Thursday evening, the police have reportedly detained one person and are examining a bag recovered from the blast site.

The shattering blast took place on Thursday during evening prayers after the daylong Ramadan fast. It triggered panic in the shrine revered by both Muslims and Hindus and in the crowded narrow lanes that surround it.

Police sources said a resident of Ajmer has been detained on suspicion, though there was no official confirmation.

Police have found a blue bag in the shrine complex. It contained some blank pieces of paper. "The forensic department is looking into it and trying to gather information," a police official said.

Ajmer is located about 140 km from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, in western India.

An official of the famous shrine about 140 km from Rajasthan capital Jaipur said Friday morning that normalcy had returned. "All rituals including prayers will go on as usual and the situation is normal now," he said.

One of the Khadims (caretakers) at the shrine said on condition of anonymity that he had seen three suspicious people near the tree under which the explosives were placed, before the blast took place.

Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Katria, who rushed to Ajmer after the explosion, said it was aimed at disturbing communal harmony.

"The blast was not powerful and it seems it was aimed more at disturbing communal harmony in the state," the minister said. "As per preliminary investigations, it does not seem that there was any foreign hand in it."

According to police, the explosion took place at 6.20 p.m. at the Dargah Astan-e-Noor, widely considered the holiest Sufi shrine and the topmost symbol of syncretism in South Asia.

There were some 500 to 600 people inside the shrine and hundreds more around it when the blast went off, a police officer told IANS.

Kaju Nisha, a witness, said: "My husband and I were sitting at the dargah when suddenly there was a blast. Everything was shaking like an earthquake had hit the place and soon I found my husband lying in a pool of blood."

Officials said it was too early to fix blame. But they added that that the blast was similar to those that shook Hyderabad on Aug 25, killing 44 people.

First Published: Oct 12, 2007 13:55 IST