Hyderabad peaceful, police find more clues to blast


Hyderabad : The situation remained peaceful in the old city of Hyderabad Sunday with no untoward incidents reported overnight, while police claim to have got some clues in their probe into Friday's bomb blast at the Mecca Masjid that claimed 16 lives, including five in police firing.

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The communally sensitive old city area on the southern side of Musi River remained largely incident-free since Saturday even as police and paramilitary forces continued to keep vigil.

Police claim to have found some clues about the perpetrators of the blast during Friday prayers. Police sources said the SIM card of the mobile phone found attached to an unexploded bomb was bought in Kolkata.

The blast killed 11 worshippers and injured 30 during Friday prayers at Mecca Masjid, a stone's throw away from Charminar, the 400-year-old symbol of Hyderabad.

Police believe that Bangladesh-based terror group Harkat-Ul Jihad Al Islami (HUJI) was behind the blast and its activist Mohammed Shahed alias Bilal, a native of Hyderabad, was its mastermind.

Shahed is believed to have triggered the blast from Bangladesh as a very sophisticated technology was used to detonate the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) filled with a mixture of RDX and TNT. According to police, a phone call from anywhere in the world to the mobile attached to the IED is enough to trigger the blast.

Police sources said they hope to make some more progress by tracing the calls made or received from the mobile phone. Three-four locals are alleged to have helped Shahed, also the mastermind in the suicide blast at the police commissioner's task force office here in October 2005. One policeman was killed in that blast.

Meanwhile, a daylong shutdown Saturday was largely peaceful barring an incident of stone throwing in the evening near the 17th century mosque where four policemen were injured. Police opened fire in the air to control the situation.

Police Commissioner Balwinder Singh said matters were brought under control.

"Despite attempts by five-six people to destabilise the city, people showed patience and restrain. We are proud of the people," Singh said.

However, the police firing on the mob immediately after the blasts has come under sharp criticism from people and political parties. Policemen have been accused of using excessive force.

Autopsy reports said four of the victims of police firing were shot in the chest and abdomen and the bullets went through their bodies. The general norm is that police should aim below the waist level.

There is anger among residents that police opened fire without first using canes, water canons or rubber bullets. Television pictures showed some youths carrying the injured were also shot at.

The state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the police firing, but has defended the action saying it was necessary to prevent any major communal disturbance.

Friday's blast triggered apprehensions that the old city could once again plunge into serious communal disturbance. The old city, founded 400 years ago, is home to half the city's four million population and has witnessed communal riots in 1970s and 1980s. But no major violence has occurred since 1990, when communal frenzy had claimed over 200 lives.

Muslims constitute 40 percent of the city's total population but comprise about 70 percent of the old city.