Patna/Ranchi, (Hindustan Times): The police have detained four persons in connection with the blasts in Patna that killed at least five persons and left more than 90 injured on Sunday. They were also investigating a possible Ranchi connection to the explosions.
“We have some information about a Ranchi connection to the incident,” said SN Pradhan, Jharkhand additional director general of police (ADGP) and police spokesperson.
The police conducted raids in several areas of Ranchi on Sunday on the basis of information provided by those detained in Patna.
Six bombs – improvised explosive devices (IED) with timers – went off in and around Gandhi Maidan between 11.40am and 12.45pm on Sunday just ahead of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rally. Earlier in the day, around 9.30am, a bomb had exploded in a toilet at Patna Junction railway station.
There was confusion on Monday over reports that one of the injured, and also a suspect, had succumbed to injuries. Police later confirmed that he was still alive.
Officials in Patna refused to comment on the investigation saying it had been taken over by the National Investigative Agency.
Within hours of the blasts, the union home ministry in New Delhi had on Sunday rushed a team of NIA officers and bomb experts from the National Security Guards to the state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked chief minister Nitish Kumar to take “immediate and firm action” to identify and act against those responsible.
The first crude bomb exploded in a public toilet building near platform 10 at Patna Junction, said Patna SSP Manu Maharaj. A man was injured and hospitalised. A bomb squad member was also seriously wounded while trying to defuse two more bombs found there, he said.
Two hours later, bombs went off in and around Gandhi Maidan – near a movie theatre, a hotel, a children’s park and a bank – sending plumes of smoke in the air and people scurrying around in panic.
Police managed to prevent a stampede and the organisers of the rally also helped maintain calm by announcing that the blasts were tyre bursts or crackers going off.
“We detected four more bombs. Defusing them turned out to be a problem as they are all fitted with timers,” said a bomb squad member.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar insisted there was “neither intelligence failure nor a security lapse”.
After his rally, Modi tweeted, “Blasts in Patna are deeply saddening and unfortunate. Condolences with families of deceased and prayers with injured. I appeal for peace and calm.”
The BJP called the blasts a design to create panic and scuttle the rally.
“We want a probe into the blasts. This is really unfortunate,” said BJP’s national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.