Protests across Andhra as blast toll reaches 16
The death toll in Friday's bomb blast at Mecca Masjid and subsequent police firing has risen to 16 on Saturday. While eleven persons were killed in the bomb explosion, five others were killed when police opened fire to control a large mob that resorted to arson, looting and brick batted the police.
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, who along with Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited the Mecca Masjid as well as some of the violence affected areas on Saturday, said that his government was ready to have a CBI probe into the incidents.
Reddy said he would immediately shift the Assistant Commissioner of Police Charminar, B Reddanna, in the wake of complaints by MIM party that the officer used excessive force and resorted to unprovoked firing, in the process killing five people.
Reddy announced that besides paying ex-gratia of Rs five lakh each to the families of the deceased, the government would arrange a job for one member from each family. But the family members appeared too grief stricvken. "We don't want ex-gratia. We want justice," victims' families told them.
After visiting the affected areas, Shivraj Patil told mediapersons that the terrorist game plan of attacking places of worship was to create bad blood between different communities. He asked the people to understand the game plan and act responsibly.
Responding to a question, he said that it was "premature to jump to conclusions" on persons or organisations behind Friday's bomb blast. "We have (certain) information. The state government also has information but premature disclosure of information does not help the investigation."
Meanwhile the state capital observed a partial bandh in response to a bandh call given by MIM. The bandh was total in the old city as the state government withdrew public transport buses. All shops, business estabnlishments remained close and schools declared a holiday. The police deployed large contingents of AP Special Police, Central Reserve Police Force and Rapid Action Force.
Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh said the situation was fully under control. No fresh incident has been reported since Friday evening.