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Western India tense over blasts on Navratri eve

September 30, 2008

Two powerful motorcycle explosions on the eve of Navratri and Ramzan celebrations left seven killed, including one in police firing and 122 others injured in remote towns of Malegaon and Modasa in Western India on Tuesday night.

While five people, including one in police firing, were killed and 112 injured in a powerful blast late last night at Malegaon in Nashik district of Maharashtra, two persons were killed and ten injured in a blast in a market place in Modasa town in Gujarat.

The blast in Malegaon took place when the motorcycle to which a high intensity crude bomb had been fixed was triggered by a timer, killing four people on the spot and injuring several others. A mob later threw stones at the police, which came to the scene on hearing about the blast. Police in self defence fired eight rounds, injuring one person who later succumbed.

Police said in all 112, including 30 police men and homeguards were injured in the incident.

Even as the Maharashtra and Gujarat police have further fortified the security arrangements for the peaceful celebrations of Navratri, eight activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India were rounded up by police in connection with the Modasa blast. Modasa deputy superintendent of police K K Mysorewala told UNI that the bomb was placed in a parked motorcycle in a congested area of the town, which went off at around 2130 hrs.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R R Patil, who visited the blast site in Malegaon and later the hospitals where the injured have been admitted, announced a magisterial inquiry into the incident. Patil also announced a compensation of Rs five lakhs on behalf of the state government to the family of the bereaved and Rs 50,000 to those injured. He said a compensation of Rs three lakhs each would also be paid to the bereaved family by the Union Government. He was accompanied by the district guardian minister, Chhagan Bhujbal.

Patil said the cause of the explosion would be known after investigation. No organisation has claimed responsiblity of the blast. When referred to the complaints from the people, that the police did not heed to complaints about the suspicious manner in which the unattended motorcycle had been parked and about the need for police firing, he said the inquiry would reveal the truth and those responsible would be punished.

Forensic teams from Aurangabad and Nashik have reached Malegaon for investigations along with members of the Anti Terrorist Squad from Mumbai.

Patil was gheraoed by people when he visited the blast site. They expresed their ire over the decision of the police to open fire on the mob.

In Modasa, forensic experts have collected samples from the site and are expected to find some vital clues about the blast. Officials of the Anti-Terrorist Squad and Ahmedabad [Images] crime branch had visited Modasa town late on Monday night. Meanwhile, the Gujarat government has put the entire state on high alert following the Modasa blast.

The Government also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next kin of those who died in the blast.

Graphic: KBK News Graphics

 

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