Synchronised blasts in Uttar Pradesh kill at least 12


Lucknow/New Delhi : Terror came calling in Uttar Pradesh Friday when multiple blasts ripped through the civil court premises in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi within five minutes of each other killing at least 12 people in India’s most populous state.

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Security was beefed up and the blast sites sealed off after the perfectly coordinated explosions around 1.30 p.m. — when the civil courts were buzzing with lunchtime crowds of thousands of lawyers and their clients.

Nine people were killed and 40 injured in the temple town of Varanasi, 300 km from Lucknow, in three blasts within the court compound. In Faizabad, 120 km from the state capital, there were two blasts that claimed the lives of three people.

The explosion in Lucknow was low in intensity did not result in any casualties.

State Director General of Police (DGP) Vikram Singh said the attacks were planned well in advance.

“The bombs used in the blasts were not crude, it was all pre-planned. The explosives were not plastic. Pellets were used in the blasts,” he said.

“All the blasts took place within five minutes between 1.26 p.m. and 1.31 p.m.”

Intelligence officials in Delhi agreed that the choreographed strikes were meticulously planned and was the handiwork of a professional group.

“It is too early to say anything. We are working on all dimensions to these blasts,” said a senior intelligence official.

As news of the terror attack spread, union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal appealed for calm and maintained that people had to be united at this point.

“Communal harmony must be maintained. It is clear that the blasts were planned,” said Jaiswal.

A four-member team of the elite National Security Guards (NSG) has been dispatched to Uttar Pradesh to uncover the nature of the explosives used.

In Varanasi, the blast occurred at the local court premises in the Cantonment area during the busy court hour. Over 2,000 people were present in the court premises when the bomb went off.

In Lucknow, the bomb was a crude device hidden in a bag of ‘khoya’, a milk product, and kept on a bicycle that was strategically left along a tree near the tin sheds under which hundreds of lawyers operate in their makeshift offices.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) for Lucknow Zone, A.K. Jain, who was manhandled by angry lawyers when he visited the site, described the blasts in Faizabad and Varanasi as “powerful”. He said the search was on for more bombs in these areas.

Intelligence officials were circumspect in ascribing a motive to the terror attack and said they were examining all aspects, including whether the blasts were linked to the recent arrest of three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants who were allegedly plotting to abduct Rahul Gandhi.

“We are also looking if there is any connection to the three serial blasts that ripped through Gorakhpur in May that injured six people,” said an intelligence official.

Sadeer Bhatia, Lucknow’s bar association president, said, “We have been demanding better security in court premises. We have been telling the police that people entering the court premises should be frisked properly but that is not done.”

Lawyers in Lucknow raised anti-Pakistan slogans and threatened to paralyse all work in courts unless proper security was provided. They were also planning a march to press for stern action against terrorists.