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Unsolved blast cases pile up in Delhi

May 25, 2011 19:07 IST

The 'low intensity' blast outside the crowded Delhi high court is the seventh such blast that rattled the national capital in the past few years. The six earlier cases of low-intensity blasts remain unsolved. The police have only been able to come up with the explanation that these are "acts of mischievous elements." 

Though the blast outside the Delhi high court on Wednesday afternoon did not claim any casualties or damage, it raises serious questions on the overall security set-up. The police describe it as a "crude bomb". It was placed near a Ford Figo car bearing the registration number DL 4C AF 7935 and belonging to lawyer R Jain. 

"The crudely assembled bomb was kept in a plastic bag. A home-made plastic detonator was used to trigger the explosion, which was caused by a white, jelly like powder. Most probably, the plastic detonator was made from mobile-phone chips and wires were used to connect it to watch-batteries. Prima facie, it looks like ammonium nitrate was used with oil or kerosene, thus explaining the jelly like feature of the otherwise dry-white powder," a senior police officer involved in the investigation told rediff.com

The blast was reported at 1.15 pm in front of the lawyer's car. The bomb was placed in a black plastic bag just below the car and the explosion resulted in a minor fire on the bumper. 

"I was, as usual, directing different cars into their parking spots when suddenly I heard a big explosion. It was like a loud thunder and initially I thought it was a CNG explosion. There was fire in the front of the car. Some friends and I rushed to the court canteen and came back with buckets of water and doused the fire," said Dharamveer Singh, the parking attendant in the high court parking lot.

Teams of Bomb Disposal Squad, Dog Squad and the anti-terror wing of Delhi police's Special Cell arrived at the spot soon. They picked up samples of the white powder, which has been sent for forensic examination.

"Contrary to reports, no sharp items were recovered from the spot. The blast, however, is not an accident. We have recovered the remains of the crude bomb used here. There was no damage caused to any of the cars in the complex, except for some superficial damage to the Ford Figo," Special Commissioner of Police Dharmendra Kumar told rediff.com

In the past few years, six cases of low-intensity explosions have been reported in the national capital. Five of these blasts took place in the dead of the night in south Delhi in the same signature style: a crude bomb triggered by ammonium nitrate and concrete shrapnel.

On January 16, 2008, a low intensity blast took place near the IIT gate in Malviya Nagar. A fortnight later, in February, another blast was reported in the same area.

A similar blast was reported in the same spot on February 11, 2004. On May 8 in 2008, a blast took place in Lado Sarai in the same jurisdiction. A similar blast was reported in the same place in July 2005 as well. 

The other low-intensity blast was a pressure-cooker bomb inside a car outside Jama Masjid area on September 19, 20009. In this case, ammonium nitrate was circuited with shrapnel in a pressure cooker in a blue Maruti car. The explosion took place two hours after two Taiwanese tourists had sustained bullet injuries after unidentified bikers arrived near the historic Jama Masjid and opened several rounds of fire at their tourist bus. 

A more serious blast on September 27, 2008, which killed three, including a nine-year-old boy, and injured over 27, followed the same signature style of the low-intensity blasts in Mehrauli area. And it occurred six months after the first crude explosion at the IIT gate, with police suspecting that these low-intensity blasts were 'test-runs' of the larger blast in Mehrauli. 

In addition, a blast took place inside Jama Masjid in April, 2006, which injured 13 people. In Jama Masjid, crude bombs were placed inside plastic bags. 

Till date, none of these blast cases, including the fatal Mehrauli blast, have been solved.

Notably, the Delhi administration had received an anonymous letter tipping them about a blast on May 25. The letter, which was handwritten and purportedly from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, was delivered to the station master of New Delhi Railway Station, a police source said.

"It was not specific about the location, but said that a blast would take place in Delhi on May 25. It said that the blast would be either at the station or some crowded market place or anywhere with a large crowd. The station master had given the letter to the Delhi police, which had sounded an alert," a senior police official said.

Sahim Salim in New Delhi