Four detained; condition of two injured serious; no security lapse, says Nitish

Five persons were killed and 83 injured in multiple blasts that rocked Patna’s Gandhi Maidan and the railway station on Sunday, hours before BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was to address the Hunkar rally here.

A rash of seven explosions ripped through the surroundings of the Gandhi Maidan, where nearly over two lakh people had gathered for the rally. Of the 83 people injured, two are in a critical condition.

“A total of seven blasts took place of which five were inside the Gandhi Maidan and two at the station,” Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj told The Hindu.

One of the blasts at the station occurred even as the bomb disposal squad was defusing a bomb. The police found two unexploded improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at two locations around the maidan. Searches are on for more IEDs.

The blasts claimed the lives of Ram Narayan Singh, Vikas Singh, Munna Srivastav and two others.

The first blast occurred at 9.30 a.m. in the toilet on Platform 10 at the Patna junction. One critically injured person, admitted to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna, is believed to be a suspect.

“There is a possibility that he was injured while planting the bomb,” Director-General of Police Abhayanand told a press conference.

Two hours later, the second blast took place around 11.40 a.m. on the Gandhi Maidan near Udyog Bhavan. The third one occurred at 12.05 p.m. near the Regent Cinema Hall, the fourth at 12.15 p.m. near the twin towers, and the fifth at 12.20 p.m. near the State Bank of India office. The last blast went off near the children’s park, the DGP said.

There is discrepancy in the number and location of blasts given by the police. While the SSP said there were two blasts at the railway station, the DGP said there was only one. While the SSP said five blasts occurred inside the maidan, the DGP said only one went off.

“I was defusing a bomb when it went off,” Navin Kumar Sah, member of the bomb disposal squad, who was injured, told The Hindu at the Patna Medical College and Hospital. “The second blast took place at 1 p.m. I could escape with a fractured finger. The bomb I was defusing had a timer attached to it. So it could not have been a crude bomb,” he said.

The police had arrested one Imtiaz Ansari, who was allegedly trying to flee after the blast at the station. He is suspected to be a member of the Indian Mujahideen and has given his confession. Three others detained also confessed to the crime, according to the police.

“IEDs were used in all the blasts, and timers and improvised switches were used in some. The bomb planted at the station was complicated,” Mr. Abhayanand said.

Asked if there was a terror link, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the possibility could not be ruled out. However, he denied political conspiracy. At a press conference, he condemned the incident and denied any security lapse by the police or the administration. “The attacks were carried out with an intention to vitiate the atmosphere in Bihar. They took us completely by surprise. We had no intelligence input or alert either from the Centre or State agencies. It would be wrong and an over simplification to call this a security lapse. Such a thing has never happened in Bihar,” Mr. Kumar said.

“Bihar has not had a history of confrontation. This is the handiwork of people who want to spoil Bihar’s climate. We won’t let them succeed in their designs. ,” he said.

He announced an ex gratia of Rs.5 lakh for the families of the deceased.