Shinde: Police, ATS going all out to nail the culprits

Even as Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde reiterated that the police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) were picking up every loose end to nail the perpetrators of the serial blasts witnessed in the city on Wednesday, the third day of investigation showed no signs of progress.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, Minister of State (Home) Satej Patil and Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh were in the city on Saturday to review the probe.

“Sensitive matter”

Speaking to reporters on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Shinde said: “It is a very sensitive matter. Though the incident looks small as there was not much damage done to life and property, the government is treating it with utmost seriousness.”

Four low-intensity serial blasts went off in the city’s busy Junglee Maharaj Road on Wednesday evening, injuring one person. The bombs were found in a plastic carry bag and a dustbin outside popular food joint McDonald’s, and on bicycles at two places. Two Improvised Explosive Devices that failed to go off were later found and defused.

Asked whether it was a case of mischief, as Pune Commissioner of Police Gulabrao Pol had stated on the day of the blasts, Mr. Shinde said: “I don’t think it is mischief. The investigating agencies are looking at every possibility. Nothing can be ruled out. We are searching for leads to [nail the] anti-national elements who may have planted the bombs.” Media pointed out that the blasts took place when the newly appointed Home Minister was scheduled to visit Pune on Wednesday evening, a plan that was cancelled later.

However, Mr. Shinde refused to answer if the security mechanism of the State government had failed to anticipate the situation.

NIA team too on it

Central agencies as well as Maharashtra police and the ATS were involved in the investigations, he said. A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was called to Pune on the day of the blast.

Earlier, addressing reporters after a separate meeting with senior police officers, Mr. Chavan refused to divulge details about the investigation. “The investigation is on in full steam. I cannot say anything about the motive of the blasts,” he said.

Asked if the lone injured Dayanand Patil had been given a clean chit, he said: “We cannot say anything until the investigation is complete.”

The nature and the amount of the explosives used in the blasts would be revealed in the forensic report, he said.

So far, the police have not been able to point out the motive or ascertain which group was behind the blasts. They have questioned Patil’s wife, neighbours and relatives in Uruli Kanchan village near Pune; and in his hometown Basava Kalyan in Karnataka’s Bidar district.

They have also questioned the owner and employees of Soni Cycle Trading Company, the cycle shop from where two of the three cycles used in the blasts, were allegedly bought. According to police officials, the sketches of the persons who bought the cycles are ready and have been circulated among the investigating officers.

No CCTV network

Two years after German Bakery blast, a CCTV network eludes Pune. Mr. Chavan stated on Saturday that he had discussed the issue of installing CCTV cameras in the city with Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, amid reports that the existing CCTVs were non-functional.

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