In what is suspected to be the first-ever terror attack in Patna,five people were killed and 90 injured when serial blasts targeted Narendra Modi’s rally in the state capitals Gandhi Maidan on Sunday. Two of the injured are critical.
While six of the blasts occurred around the rally venue,two bombs went off within 150 metres of the platform from where Modi delivered his speech. The last bomb went off at 12.45 pm 20 minutes before Modi and top BJP leaders took the stage.
Four live bombs were later discovered near the rally venue.
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Though the Bihar Police did not officially call it a terror attack,Director General of Police Abhayanand confirmed the use of IED and timers. Intelligence sources also hinted at the use of ammonium nitrate,detonators and iron nails.
By late Sunday evening,four people had been arrested. Police identified one of them as Mohammed Imtiaz from Bhuian Toli,Ranchi. Another person shown as arrested is battling for life at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and is believed to have planted the bomb that went off inside a Patna Railway Station platform toilet. Police claimed to have seized important documents from them.
MoS (Home) R P N Singh told The Indian Express that it was too early to draw any conclusions regarding the identity of the attackers. Only after investigation will we be able to tell anything.
Three of the five who died have been identified as Ramnarain Singh from Gaurichak near Patna,Vikas Singh from Kaimur and Munna Srivastava from Mirganj,Gopalganj. Whether they were political activists or had just come for the rally is yet to be determined. Most of the injured were attending the rally.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who spoke to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar,condemned the blasts and appealed for calm. Home Ministry officials said there was no specific alert about the rally and it was solely up to the state government to decide what kind of arrangements were to be made. The Union Home Ministry had recently sent an advisory to all poll-bound states to maintain vigilance at election rallies.
Nitish said in a statement that there had been no intelligence input warning of such an attack and that even the BJP had not expressed apprehension of a blast. We provided all the help required for a rally on such a big scale. Ruling out any political conspiracy,he added that those trying to disturb the atmosphere of Bihar would be identified.
There may be political differences between the BJP and JD(U),but it is time to fight such challenges together, he said. PTI reported that Nitish also called up BJP president Rajnath Singh,who was present at the Patna rally,and assured a thorough probe.
Calling the blast a blot on the glorious traditions of Bihar,the CM added that the NIA had been called in to join the investigation and promised definite details within 48 hours.
This is the second series of blasts in Bihar after the July Bodhgaya attack.
Fear spread among the crowd following the explosions,but only a few left the Modi rally. Large numbers decided to listen to him from the approach roads near the ground so that they could make quick exit in case of an emergency.
The first bomb went off inside a toilet on Platform No. 10 of Patna Railway Station at around 9.30 am. One person who was critically injured in the blast.
There were six subsequent blasts in and around Gandhi Maidan. The second blast took place at 11.40 am in front of Udyog Bhavan,injuring several. The third blast took place at 12.05 pm in front of Regent Cinema near Gandhi Maidan and the fourth near the old Gandhi statue at the rally venue at 12.10 pm. The fifth bomb went off near the Biscomaun Bhawan at 12.15 pm,the sixth in front of the SBI Branch adjacent to the Maidan at 12.25 pm and the last at 12.45 pm at Childrens Park,near the District Magistrates official residence.
DGP Abhayanand said IED and timer devices were used in almost all the bombs. All the bombs were of low intensity. We are still searching Gandhi Maidan to find out if any live bomb is left. FSL team has collected samples. The NIA team has landed and will join the investigations.
The probe team said that while some bombs were buried under the ground,others were planted on raised platforms. What may have saved the situation was that because of several approach routes to the venue,there was no stampede which the attackers may have intended to spark off.
Most of the 90 who were hurt received pellet injuries. Sanjay Kumar,a Begusarai resident,was injured when he was reaching Gandhi Maidan. Lallan Prasad Gupta,another injured,said: I came from Sonepur for the rally. I was injured when I approached what turned out to be a bomb.
Vikas Manjhi from Gaya and Jitendra Mistry from Fatuah near Patna also received pellet injuries.
In a tweet,Modi said: Blasts in Patna are deeply saddening and unfortunate. Condolences to families of deceased and prayers with injured. I appeal for peace and calm.