Terror revisited the heart of the Capital on Wednesday morning when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded reception area at one of the entrances to the Delhi High Court,killing at least 11 and injuring 76,2 among whom are serious.
The terror attack,from a sophisticated explosive device,had a precursor less than four months ago on May 25 when a low-intensity bomb went off in the same area,though outside a different gate.
Questions have been raised in police circles whether that blast was an attempt to gauge the area’s preparedness to ward off terror as well as its vulnerability.
Police officials said the bomb went off at 10.15 am outside gate 5 which was jampacked with visitors waiting for entry passes.
Condemning the “terrorist attack”,Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha it was not immediately possible to identify the group behind the High Court blast.
He said the investigation would be handed over to the National Investigative Agency (NIA). Chidambaram also visited the blast site.
Television reports,however,said the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) had claimed responsibility for this attack,warning of more if the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru was not repealed.
A 20-member NIA team headed by the DIG has been formed to probe the case. We are seriously looking into the claim of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) which has taken responsibility for the attack,” NIA chief S C Sinha said.
Union Home Ministry R K Singh said the blast was of medium to high intensity and created a deep crater at the reception area between gate 4 and 5 of the Delhi High Court.
Asked whether the blast was a terror strike,Singh said: It has all the makings of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) set up by a terror group.
He said the bomb was kept in a briefcase since some of its remains were still in it.
Singh said there was no prior intelligence input about a possible attack on the Delhi High Court. The blast happened in a public area where anyone could come and drop a suitcase and walk away,he added.
Special Commissioner Dharmendra Kumar told reporters the bomb was apparently kept in a briefcase.
Teams of National Investigating Agency (NIA),National Security Guards (MSG) and the forensic department were soon rushed to the spot.
Gate 5 was crowded with 100 to 200 people waiting in queue to get entry passes. There were several lawyers at the spot.
We are investigating how the briefcase was placed there. It is not a controlled area. There were lots of people, said Kumar.
Delhi police suspect the use of potassium nitrate in the bomb.
Some of the injured were treated at a dispensary inside the court while others were rushed to nearby hospitals,like AIIMS,Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia (RML). Many of them suffered burn injuries,eyewitnesses said. The dead were taken to the RML Hospital.
Court proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm. The main court premises where all the courtrooms are housed have been evacuated.
Lawyers said court business is usually heavy on Wednesdays,which is listed as a public interest litigation (PIL) day when visitors come to the court in large numbers.
In the past few years,the Supreme Court and High Court complexes have been on the hit-list of terrorist organisations.
Four months ago on May 25,a crude explosive had gone off outside gate 7 of the Delhi High Court.
The Capital had strengthened its security brief for public places after that blast,though no one was injured in it.
Low-intensity explosives,wrapped in a polythene bag and kept close to the car parked near gate 7,had gone off around 1.30 pm on May 25. Ammonium nitrate,a battery-like object,wires and some nails were found at the site by forensic experts.
The one before that was on September 13,2008 when a series of five synchronised bomb blasts took place within few minutes at various locations in Delhi. Thirty people were killed and over 100 injured in that strike.