BANGALORE/NEW DELHI: Sixteen people were injured on Wednesday in a bomb blast, near the ruling BJP’s office in this tech hub, which Karnataka deputy chief minister R Ashok said was an act of terror.
“A bomb-like material on a motorbike exploded around 10.30am injuring 16 people, including 11 policemen, near the BJP office at Malleswaram in north-west Bangalore,” state director general of police (DGP) Lalrokhuma Pachau told reporters here.
Rushing to the blast spot, Ashok said the fact that it (explosion) occurred so near to the BJP office clearly indicated that the terrorists wanted to cause maximum damage to its leaders and cadres, besides spreading panic ahead of the state legislative assembly elections May 5.
“As a lot of political activity has been going on since the poll schedule was announced last month, hundreds of our cadres and leaders have been visiting the party office daily and hence they were the target of this terror attack,” Ashok told reporters.
Among the five civilians injured, three were women and two teenagers.
“The injuries are not so serious and no one is in critical condition. They are being treated in a nearby (state-run) hospital,” Pachau asserted.
The motorcycle was parked between two cars. The blast ripped through the motorcycle and gutted both the vehicles parked near it. There was a loud explosion that rattled doors and windows of surrounding houses.
Police cordoned off the entire blast area for study and tests by the state bomb squad, forensic experts and the state-run National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The injured policemen were seated in a mini bus parked nearby as they were on security duty for the upcoming election.
“We do not know the type of bomb that was used. The matter is under investigation. NIA and forensic experts are studying the three charred vehicles and other burnt-out material to find what sort of bomb or materials were used to trigger the blast,” Pachau said.
Appealing to people across the state to remain calm and maintain peace, Ashok said there was no cause for panic and no rumours should be allowed to spread.
“The culprits will be punished. Special teams are being set up to find out who was behind this cowardly act and why the attacks were planned when elections are due,” Ashok observed.
Coincidentally, a similar blast took place exactly three years ago, on April 17, 2010, outside the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in the city centre before an IPL (Indian Premier League) T-20 match.
“The pattern appears to be same. Cause panic and maximum damage to innocent people and their property,” Ashok said.
Bangalore police commissioner R Auradkar had earlier told reporters that the explosion appeared to have been caused by the bursting of a liquefied petroleum gas cylinder in one of the parked vehicles.
Glass and smoke everywhere
The site of the blast is covered with glass pieces, from the shattered window panes of vehicles in the area. Venkateshaiah, a KSRP head constable, who was having breakfast inside the van when the blast occurred, told The Hindu that the impact of the blast was huge.
“We heard a loud explosion, and before we knew it our window panes shattered and there was thick black smoke everywhere. We couldn’t see anything initially but somehow made our way out of the van,” he said. When the smoke cleared up a bit he saw people lying on the road, most of whom had either collapsed due to the smoke or had been injured by the glass pieces from the shattered window panes.
Among the injured was Nisha, a II PUC student, who was returning home after her tuition classes. The injured were rushed to KC General Hospital. Authorities at the hospital confirmed that none of those brought in were critical.
Mr. Venkateshaiah added that the police van had just been moved there – about 500 metres from the BJP party office – an hour back after the party workers complained that it was obstructing traffic there.
The entire street has been cordoned off. The bomb squad, the National Investigative Agency and IB officers are all present at the spot. Home Minister R. Ashok also visited the party office and inspected the blast site.
Shakeel Ahmad’s tweet kicks row
Union minister of state for home RPN Singh appealed to the people not to politicise the Bangalore blasts, even as Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed kicked up a storm on Twitter, claiming that the blasts would aid the BJP in the May 5 assembly polls.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said Shakeel’s remarks were unbecoming of a senior leader, and asserted that politics should be kept out of terror strikes.
Home minister Shushilkumar Shinde, who was in Kolkata, said a probe had been ordered into the blast.
Any terror incident is a matter of concern and should not be seen as political gain, Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said Wednesday shortly after his colleague Shakeel Ahmad kicked up a storm with his remark that the blast near the BJP’s office in Bangalore would help the party in the Karnataka polls.
“Any terror incident is a matter of concern … it is a national and international problem … it is a challenge for the country … it should not be seen as political gain,” Dwivedi told reporters after the blast in Bangalore, in which 16 people were injured.
Earlier in the day, Ahmad said on Twitter: “If the blast near BJP’s office in Bangalore is a terror attack, it will certainly help the BJP politically on the eve of election.” The state assembly elections are to be held May 5.
The Congress distanced itself from Shakeel Ahmad’s tweet, saying the party had nothing to do with it and it was his personal view.
“I have not seen his tweet. What he said is his personal view and the party has nothing to do with it,” added RPN Singh.
Ahmad’s remarks were criticized by the BJP as unwarranted and uncalled for.
“Such remarks are uncalled for and should not have come from a senior Congress leader. The party (Congress) has already accepted defeat in Karnataka,” added BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi.
“There should be no politics on such incidents,” BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain added.
Condemning Ahmad’s remarks, BJP president Rajnath Singh said: “Terrorism should not be seen as a political loss or gain.”
Stating that the incident was “unfortunate and condemnable”, he said party leaders were taking stock of the situation.
“I talked to Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar. We are taking stock of the situation,” Rajnath Singh said.
Sixteen people were injured, two of them seriously, in the explosion in crowded residential locality of Malleshwaram in north Bangalore. Many vehicles were gutted but there was no damage to the BJP office in the explosion that was initially believed to be a cylinder blast.
Chaotic scenes at blast site, vehicles in flames
Bangalore, Apr 17 , 2013 (PTI)
A loud bang and the next moment three cars went up in flames and a bike blown to smithereens, recounted witnesses to a terror strike outside the BJP office here buzzing with activity ahead of the May 5 Assembly polls.
“All of us were sitting in a police van in front of which the cars and a motorbike were parked. I heard a deafening sound and when I opened my eyes I saw all the three vehicles in flames and the bike blown to smithereens,” 50-year-old Meerannavar told PTI.
“Our van was fully damaged, the glass panes shattered, with splinters hitting us. The impact of the blast was so much that the seats sprang up and I almost hit the roof. I cannot hear through my left ear now,” said the policeman, undergoing treatment at the hospital.
He was among the injured police personnel from the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP).
Meerannavar has glass splinters embedded in his head which would have to be removed, according to the doctors.
58-year-old Kunjappa, a KSRP Sub Inspector, said, “The sound was such, I felt my head would split into two. While I saw flames leaping from the vehicles, the bike broke into pieces.” Kunjappa was also having hearing problem and suffered injuries all over his body.
“My head still feels heavy and is reeling. It was a sound which I will never like to hear again. The vehicles in front of our van were burning while our van was badly damaged with glass splinters from the broken window panes flying all over. I feel terrible,” said Vishveshwaraiah (50), looking badly shaken after the incident.
Wednesday’s explosion is fourth terror attack in Bangalore
Bangalore, April 17, 2013 (IANS)
The blast near the BJP office in Bangalore Wednesday is the fourth terror strike in the Karnataka capital, home to renowned educational institutions and global information technology firms.
The blast, which left 16 people injured — two seriously, took place exactly three years after the twin explosions at Chinnaswamy Stadium in the city centre, ahead of an Indian Premier League T20 cricket match, which left 15 injured.
The first terror attack in Bangalore was at the famous Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on the evening of Dec 28, 2005, when delegates coming out of an international conference were fired on, leading to the death of M.C. Puri, a retired professor of the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. Four people were injured in that attack.
The IISc is about five km from Wednesday’s blast site in Malleshwaram, a residential locality in north Bangalore.
Six people, suspected to be members of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Bangalore court for the 2005 attack.
In the second terror attack in the city on July 25, 2008, one person was killed and six people were injured when a series of bombs fitted with timer devices went off in a span of 45 minutes in central, east and west Bangalore.
Around 30 people are facing trial for this attack.
The most prominent among them is Kerala-based People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Abdul Nasir Maudany, who has been in a Bangalore jail for several months now.
The third terror strike was at Chinnaswamy Stadium, where two low-intensity bombs went off, about an hour before the start of the Royal Challengers Bangalore-Mumbai Indians match of April 17, 2010, injuring 15 people and delaying the match by an hour.
The explosions damaged the boundary wall of the stadium.
The next day, an explosive device was found near Gate No.1, generally used by the players and VIPs to enter and exit the stadium.
So far, seven people have been arrested in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blasts, including Fasih Mohammed, who was detained in Saudi Arabia, and recently deported.
The Home Ministry today rushed a team of NIA to the Bangalore blast site and offered all help to the Karnataka government in its investigation.
“A team of NIA is reaching the Bangalore blast site. We are in constant touch with the Karnataka government and ready to offer any help which is required,” Minister of State for Home RPN Singh told reporters here.
Singh said the nature of the blast and the materials used to carry out the explosion were not so far clear and investigators were looking into all possibilities as nothing can be ruled out.
The Minister appealed to everyone to maintain peace and not to indulge in rumour mongering.
“We appeal to everyone that peace should be maintained. Please do not indulge in rumour mongering,” he said.
Referring to Monday’s blasts in US city of Boston, Singh said terrorism was a global phenomena and everyone should be united to fight the menace.
The Minister said all political parties should join hands and work for the interest and integrity of the country.
Shinde orders probe into Bangalore blast
Kolkata, April 17, 2013 (IANS)
“I have ordered an inquiry. The secretary home department will look into it,” Shinde told reporters here.
Sixteen people were injured, two of them seriously, in an explosion in a congested locality near the office of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Karnataka capital.
11. 50 am: Explosion caused by bomb, says Police Commissioner
Bangalore Police Commissioner, Raghvendra Auradkar, said that the explosion was caused by a bomb. “We feel that it is a motorcycle blast. It seems to be a bomb explosion,” he said.
He said that 13 people including 8 policemen were injured in the blast, adding that two among them are critically injured.
11. 44 am: ‘Motorcycle blast’ caused explosion, say police
Police called the explosion a ‘motorcycle blast’, however, he refused to comment on the nature of the explosion.
“It is an explosion, however, we cannot say what kind of explosion,” a police official said.
He confirmed that six people have been injured and two of them are critical.
11. 20 am: ‘Hope its not a terror attack’ says Balbir Punj
Reacting to the reports, BJP leader Balbir Punj said, “One only hopes that it is an accident and not an act by terrorists or political activists.”
Bangalore: Panic spread in Bangalore on Wednesday morning after a car parked near the BJP office in Malleswaram exploded into a plume of smoke and fire. 15 persons were injured in the blast, report said.
Although, there is no official word on the exact nature of the blast near the BJP office, some reports claimed that it was a car gas cylinder explosion.
TV visuals depicted that a number of vehicles, including two cars, were completely gutted in the fire that followed the explosion. A bus passing by was also hit.
Fire brigade officials have doused the fire even as all top police officials, including the police commissioner, are at the spot to ascertain the nature of the blast – there are not ruling out anything.
The entire area has been cordoned off. The injured have been rushed to nearby hospitals.
Bangalore Police said that three cars have been damaged in the blast including a police vehicle. The police have ruled out a terror angle.
There was a huge crowd of BJP workers at the party office as today was the last day to file nominations for the upcoming assembly elections in the state.