The low intensity blast in the parking lot of two police stations — Faraskhana and Vishrambaug — operating from the same premises in the crowded Budhwar Peth area has exposed lapses in security arrangements in an area long known to be on the radar of terror outfits.
Incidentally, the same building also houses the offices of deputy commissioner of police zone-1 and additional commissioner of police.
There have been repeated intelligence alerts about the possibility of a terror strike at Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh Temple. Also, there has already been an alleged attempt to bomb the temple by Qateel Siddiui, the Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, on February 13, 2010, the same day when German Bakery blast took place.
Following intelligence alerts, a large area around the temple was fortified. A large police force and private security guards were deployed, along with a wide network of good quality CCTV cameras that were installed at strategic locations around the temple that is next to the two police stations, which are manned by police personnel at any given time.
Despite this, some unidentified people managed to park a motorcycle laden with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the parking lot of the police stations, which is reserved only for police vehicles, thus putting a question mark on the alertness of the police.
Deputy commissioner of police (Zone I) M B Tambade said, “We do deploy one police officer at the parking. But even though the lot is reserved for the police, it is not strictly followed. At times, civilians, including journalists, also park their vehicles there.”
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“It is shocking that a blast took place in the police station parking lot. If the police are unable to protect their own premises, how will theyprotect us? We hope that officers are more alert at least at such sensitive areas like the Dagdusheth temple,” a resident said.
The police have detained some people for questioning. Also, the police were recording statements of shop owners and other citizens, who were at the spot when the explosive went off. Officers are also collecting video footage recorded by CCTV cameras installed at different shops and establishments around the site.
The police have not ruled out the possibility of a terror strike as the IED was placed on a stolen motorcycle, owned by a policeman in Satara. Officers suspect that the IED was planted after a proper recce of the area.
Two students out to buy books among the injured
Sushant Salunkhe and Akshay Shinde, both 18 years old, sustained injuries in the low intensity blast that took place near Faraskhana police station. They are at present under observation at Sassoon general hospital.
Residents of Kothrud, both are third-year students of diploma in civil engineering at Eklavya polytechnic. They had gone to purchase books at Appa Balwant chowk when the explosive went off.
Apart from Salunkhe and Shinde, four others, including a police personnel, the owner of an eatery near the police station, his wife, and a worker, sustained minor injuries.
Dr D G Kulkarni, medical superintendent of Sassoon general hospital, said Sushant had a compound lacerated wound (CLW) on the right palm and abrasions on the right thigh, while Akshay had abrasions on his upper back and left side of the face. “The condition of Salunkhe and Shinde is stable,” he added.
The victims’ friends, who rushed them to the hospital, were not allowed to meet them. “We did not inform their parents immediately as they would panic,” the friends told Newsline. (ENS)