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Was Surat a dry run for Malegaon?

Did Sadhvi Pragya Singh and her associates carry out a dry run at a an abandoned godown on the outskirts of Surat?

india Updated: Oct 26, 2008 00:44 IST
Stavan Desai

Did Sadhvi Pragya Singh and her associates, allegedly involved in planning and executing the September 29 blast at Malegaon, carry out a dry run at a an abandoned godown on the outskirts of Surat?

Surat police, which hit a dead end, while investigating a high intensity mysterious blast in Saroli village on September 9 has now decided to reinvestigate it.

The blast site is about a kilometer from Sadhvi Pragya Singh’s house in Punagam area of Surat.

“We are investigating it. It was thought to be a cylinder blast,” said Surat police commissioner R.M.S. Brar.

According to police, the blast took place in an abandoned godown around 5 am. Such was the impact that the shutter of the godown was ripped apart and a public telephone booth nearby was thrown 25 feet away. A crater also formed at the site.

Post-blast investigations by the police had failed to reveal any traces of explosives. “There used to be a tea stall nearby and we suspected that its owner stored the gas cylinder inside the godown which lead to the blast,” said an officer of Surat police.

But with arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh, police believes it needs to investigate the blast once again.

A team of Surat police, which examined the blast site again earlier this week, said that it had found that there was an open window inside the godown. “If there was leakage of gas from the cylinder it would have evaporated from the window.

This negates the earlier theory of a cylinder blast,” said an officer. “And even if there was gas leakage, how did it get
ignited at 5 am in the morning with no activity around?”

Forensic experts who had conducted examination of the blast site said it was difficult for them to collect samples due to impact of the blast. However, a few of the samples that were collected are being examined at the Surat laboratory of the Directorate of Forensic Science, Gujarat.

Police’s suspicion that it was not a cylinder blast has grown stronger as the place is secluded and there is hardly any human activity after dark. “And the place is only a kilometer away from where the Sadhvi’s house is,” said one of the officer’s of the team investigating the blast.