Police clueless about Uttar Pradesh blasts, RDX use confirmed


Lucknow/New Delhi : RDX, the lethal explosive substance, was used in Friday’s near simultaneous blasts in three Uttar Pradesh cities, which killed 13 people, even as the state government Saturday was nowhere near identifying the terror group behind the bombings.

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“The unexploded bomb that was discovered and defused in the Lucknow court premises yesterday contained RDX,” the state’s Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal told reporters here.

“The failure of the intended explosion saved a catastrophe,” he said.

Forensic tests have confirmed that ammonium nitrate in the three explosions – similar to the low-intensity serial blasts that ripped through the crowded Golghar market area of Gorakhpur on May 22, injuring six people.

Police said they had identified the shops from where bicycles used in the explosions were bought and had seized the computer from which an e-mail warning about the blasts had been sent to television news channels.

“While one of the bicycles was old, the new one – Oster Roadking – was purchased from a cycle store on Gautam Budh Marg around 11.45 a.m. Friday and the buyer gave his name as Salman, a resident of Qaiser Bagh locality,” Brij Lal said.

“Similarly, one of the two bicycles used in the Faizabad blast was purchased on Nov 21 by someone who declared himself as Amir Khan.”

In Varanasi, the bicycle involved in the explosion was bought Nov 16.

“Simply because the purchase in Lucknow and Faizabad was more fresh in the minds of the shop-keepers and their salesmen, we could get some description of the buyers, thereby enabling us to draw their computer sketches,” Brij Lal said.

“However we were unable to do the same in Varanasi as the bicycles were bought exactly a week earlier,” he added.

Investigators suspect the Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI) or Jaish-e-Mohammad was behind the terror attack.

Principal Home secretary J.N. Chamber told a press conference: “We are still trying to get to the root of the blasts.”

The serial blasts in the court premises of Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow Friday afternoon also left 80 wounded.

Chamber said: “The blasts killed 13 persons and left as many as 80 injured.”

While no casualties were reported from Lucknow, where the explosion was a low intensity one and another device failed to explode, the number of injuries in Varanasi was 56 and in Faizabad, 24.

Police released computer sketches of four suspects believed to be behind the terror attacks in Faizabad and Lucknow.

“We are trying to get information about the persons who purchased these bicycles. Some of the shop owners have been able to provide vital clues that may prove very useful in tracking down the culprits,” Inspector General of Police Arvind Jain told reporters.

Six cycles were used in the blasts. While the ones in Varanasi and Faizabad were brand new, one of those used in the Lucknow was old. The second bomb in Lucknow, which failed to explode, was placed on a new cycle.

The investigators were trying to find out how vast quantities of the explosive ammonium nitrate were finding their way into Uttar Pradesh. The detectives are concentrating on alleged agents of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and terrorists who have been arrested from eastern Uttar Pradesh.

At 1.18 p.m. Friday – minutes before the serial blasts that killed 13 and injured 59 in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad – an e-mail was sent from an address [email protected] to television news channels, informing them of the terror strike.

In a pithy yet dire warning the mail said: “Now the Islamic raids which is going to take place against lawyer within minutes INSHA-ALLAH”.

The police seized the computer’s hard disk Saturday. “We are questioning the owners of the café, Subhash and Manish in Lakshmi Nagar (in Delhi) and also verifying the number of people who visited the place during that period,” said a police official.

On Friday, police released the sketch of a bespectacled clean-shaven man in his early 30s, based on eyewitness accounts. Witnesses said they had seen a person of that description parking the cycle in the Lucknow court premises.

Another sketch of a suspect believed to be behind the Faizabad bombing was released Saturday morning. “The sketches of the suspects were drawn on the basis of information gathered from the cycle shop owners and other eyewitnesses,” Jain said.

Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) forced closure of shops and commercial establishments in several cities of Uttar Pradesh to protest against the terror strike in the country’s most populous state.

Following VHP head Ashok Singhal’s call for a statewide shutdown, activists of the outfit sporting saffron bands on their foreheads rode through the state capital here on motorbikes and compelled shopkeepers to pull down shutters.

Though the response to the shutdown call was lukewarm, VHP volunteers did manage to compel shops to down shutters for a brief while. The arrival of police made them retreat and the shops reopened.

BJP national president Rajnath Singh, who rushed to Varanasi and Faizabad earlier in the day, met the injured victims. He will also visit the blast site in Lucknow.

A cracker that went off in Mughal Serai, near Varanasi, on Saturday morning led to panic, showing how nerves are frayed after Friday’s blasts.

As against the government’s earlier decision to give Rs.200,000 each to the kin of those killed and Rs.50,000 to the injured, the amount was raised to Rs.500,000 and Rs.100,000 respectively. Those with minor injuries will get Rs.50,000, Chamber said.

The prime minister has also announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs.100,000 for the next of the kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 for the seriously injured from the National Relief Fund.