Police rule out terror, say tractor tyre and firecracker behind Agra ‘blasts’
Although the cause of two explosions reported near Agra Cantonment railway station on Saturday is yet to be confirmed, both police and railway authorities have prima facie ruled out the terror angle.
Officials attributed the first ‘blast’, which occurred at 5 am at a house in Rasoolpura area, to a firecracker. The second one, which took place 45 minutes later at a waste disposal area near platform no. 5 of the station, was reportedly caused due to the bursting of a tractor tyre.
“We have collected samples from the blast sites, and they are being examined by forensic experts. However, the tyre of the tractor trolley was found to have a hole. We are verifying the facts,” said deputy inspector general of police (Agra range) Mahesh Kumar Mishra.
The first blast occurred at the residence of Ashok Kumar, a plumber, he added.
“As of now, we will say that there is no terror angle to the incident,” said senior superintendent of police (Agra) Dr Preetinder Singh. “We have collected pieces of a damaged asbestos sheet from Kumar’s house. We will arrive at a conclusion once the samples have been examined.”
The public relations office of the north central railway also reiterated that the ‘blast’ near platform 5 was actually the outcome of a tyre bursting.
Though the incidents initially triggered panic in the city, there was no report of any major damage or casualty. Mishra said the area was also cordoned off to ensure that it remained undisturbed for forensic experts and the bomb disposal squad.
Agra has been on high alert ever since a pro-Islamic State media group warned of attacks in India, and published a graphic depicting the Taj Mahal as a possible target. Security was subsequently beefed up at the monument, with safety drills being undertaken every six hours.
Security exercises were carried out even on Friday, despite the Taj Mahal being closed to visitors.
According to Site Intelligence Group, an agency that tracks jihadi activities on the web, the graphic by the Ahwaal Ummat Media Centre was posted on a channel of encrypted communication app Telegram on March 14.