Condemning the bomb blast in Varanasi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was an attempt to “weaken” India's resolve to fight the “evil forces of terrorism.”

Dr. Singh appealed to people to maintain calm and peace. “It is the most unfortunate incident. It was an attempt to weaken our resolve to fight the evil forces of terrorism and the terrorists will not succeed,” he said soon after the incident.

“My heart goes out to those suffering families and we will provide succour to them,” the Prime Minister said.

Earlier, he asked the Home Ministry for a detailed report.

Terming the blast an attempt to disturb peace and harmony, Home Minister P. Chidambaram appealed to the people to remain calm. He said security had been tightened all over the country.

He said the Indian Mujahideen had claimed responsibility. The authenticity of the claim was being verified.

He said various media houses received an e-mail purported to be from the outfit. It is a five-page document that refers to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.

Nationwide alert

Special Correspondent reports:

In the wake of the blast, a nationwide alert, particularly in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai, had been sounded, said Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai.

“A general alert has been sent to all State governments and they were asked to stay on high alert.”

The Home Ministry planned to send a team of National Investigation Agency to Varanasi. “It was a low intensity blast that occurred at 6.20 p.m. and three to four people were injured. Subsequently, we understand there could have been a stampede. As a result 15-20 people were injured. So about 20-25 people were injured,” Mr. Pillai said.