Such incidents can never prevent us from worshipping
THE TEMPLE town a day after the twin blasts was virtually a picture in contrast. Though the atmosphere remained charged with politicians making a beeline and protestors fighting pitched battles with the police, there was a steady flow of devotees at ground zero, the Sankat Mochan temple. The ghats were also crowded like any other day.Updated: Mar 09, 2006 01:46 IST
THE TEMPLE town a day after the twin blasts was virtually a picture in contrast. Though the atmosphere remained charged with politicians making a beeline and protestors fighting pitched battles with the police, there was a steady flow of devotees at ground zero, the Sankat Mochan temple. The ghats were also crowded like any other day.
Train services too were rather normal, with travellers, ignoring yesterday’s blast at Cantt Railway station, thronging the two railway stations as usual.
Also, about 2,000 devotees, mostly from south India, offered prayers at the ancient Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The inflow of devotees was normal at the Bada Ganesh (Lohatia area), the Gauri Kedareshwar (Kedar Ghat), the Chintamani Ganesh (Sonarpura), the Vishwanath (BHU), the Jageshwar Mahadev (Navapura) and the Batuk Bhairav Temples (Kamachcha).
“Such incidents can never prevent us from performing daily worship. We will not allow anti-social elements to succeed in their nefarious designs,” said Surya Pratap Singh, a devotee at the Vishwanath Temple in BHU.
On the political front, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked for a joint probe, BJP chief Rajnath Singh urged people to refrain from playing Holi. Then there was BSP chief Mayawati, who demanded imposition of President’s rule.
Vinay Katiyar announced a dharna at Sankat Mochan temple beginning tomorrow in protest against growing incidents of terror. Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, faced a hostile reception and was shown black flags.
Yadav and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil spoke to each other at least five times in an obvious bid to maintain peace and work out the case at the earliest. Yadav hoped that the case would be worked out as expeditiously as the Ayodhya attack case, which was worked out in a month’s time.
So far the needle of suspicion is pointing towards involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba, said ADG, Law and Order, A Palnivel. At this stage, however, involvement of other terrorist outfits could not be ruled out, he added.
Principal secretary, Home, Alok Sinha, however, claimed that Special Task Force had got some vital clues and the perpetrators might be hiding somewhere in the ‘neighbourhood’, obviously indicating that ‘terrorists’ were within the reach of the investigating agencies.
According to explosive experts, the terrorists apparently used a mixture of ammonium nitrate with RDX and other explosive material to derive maximum impact. That terrorists were well versed with the life style of the local people is established from the fact that the blasts were carried out at the busiest hours at Sankat Mochan temple (6.20 pm) on Tuesday evening. Evening hours are the busiest hours at the Railway Station too (where blast took place at 6.35 pm).
For Dashaswamedh Ghat, the explosive device had been timed for 7.50 pm. As mobile network in the temple town remained jammed for a few hours after the explosions, the intelligence sleuths have tracked some out-of-India calls made from two local PCOs. According to sources, printouts of the calls made from the PCOs had been taken out and efforts were being made to get sketches made of those who made the calls. As timed explosive devices were used to carry out the blasts, the police are working on the details of a similar explosions that had taken place in this area in the recent past.
Besides attack on Ram Janmbhomi in Ayodhya on July 5, 2005, the Dashaswamedh Ghat blast of February 22, 2005 and the Shram Jeevi Express blast near Shingramau crossing in neighbouring Jaunpur district on July 28, 2005 are bound to throw some light on the network of terrorist groups in this area. A terrorist arrested on February 1, 2006 by the Kolkata police too had given indications towards rising activities of terrorists. It was only in the backdrop of such activities in the region that the intelligence agencies had warned the State Government about the possibilities of the terrorists making attempts to carry out serial blasts to disturb peace in the region.
Another significant aspect is that the State Government too had sounded a statewide alert about possible attempts to disturb communal peace after the Lucknow’ communal clashes. Yet all the four senior administrative and police officers —the commissioner CN Dubey, DIG RN Yadav, DM Nitin Ramesh Gokaran and SSP Navneet Sikera —were not in Varanasi on Tuesday, thereby indicating towards administrative laxity. .
Replying to a question, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, said an inquiry would be conducted to find out if there was any laxity on the part of officials.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry today said the blast at the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi on Tuesday was triggered by explosives and a timer device, kept in a pressure cooker.
“I have been told that the explosive was kept in a pressure cooker which had ammonium nitrate and a timer device,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who returned early this morning from Varanasi after visiting the blast sites, told mediapersons in Delhi.
The number of people killed in the blast at the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple was less as compared to the casualties in the other explosion at the Cantonment railway station, he said after flagging off a BSF expedition to Mount Everest this morning.
Patil assured all help to the Uttar Pradesh government in maintaining law and order in Varanasi and other places.
Replying to a question, Patil, who was accompanied by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to Varanasi, said a joint effort would be made by the Centre and the UP Government to investigate the case and bring the guilty before law.
“We have to be united in our efforts. There is no scope for a blame game,” he said.
The minister appealed to the people to remain calm and ensure that there was no flare up.
First Published: Mar 09, 2006 01:46 IST