In an apparent defusing bid, some people threw stones at bombs found at the venue of BJP leader Narendra Modi’s rally at the Gandhi Maidan here on Sunday.
According to the police, five blasts took place between 11.40 a.m. and 12.25 p.m., triggering panic among the people in parts of the Maidan. However, given its huge size, people did not rush out of the venue in fear or confusion.
“It was a yellow bomb fixed with a watch near one of the gates. Some kids were pelting stones at it and it exploded around 1 p.m. Mr. Modi had not yet started to speak. When the explosion took place, I had a blackout,” Ajit Pandey, who sustained a head injury, told The Hindu at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), where 83 injured people were rushed. Most of them were either BJP workers or supporters at the rally. He said the police did not clear the people when the explosive was spotted.
“People tried to defuse the bombs by throwing stones at them,” said Brijesh Kumar Mishra, who also suffered injuries.
“There is a hole in my cheek,” said Mukesh Singh, whose left cheek and head were covered with bandage. He was outside the Maidan when a blast occurred.
“We then went inside to help our people. We saw one bomb which was fixed with a watch and one more gadget. Around 12.30 p.m. it went off. The blast was huge. My head just stopped working,” Mr. Singh said. Many victims said the people alerted the police when they spotted the explosive devices, but the police took no step whatsoever to move people to safety.
Amit Sadar, a rally supporter, was injured not in the blast, but in stone throwing. “The bomb I saw was of metal. It caused a lot of chaos. People were running helter-skelter. They were throwing bricks, because the police were not doing anything,” he said.
Perhaps the youngest among the injured was 11-year-old Purushottam Kumar from Nalanda district. He had come with his uncle to attend the rally. “We were sitting near the small Gandhi statue and there was an explosion. I fell down after that,” Kumar said from his hospital bed. His uncle too was injured.
“For 10 minutes we were screaming for help. After hearing about the railway station blast, we were considering whether to stay at the rally venue or make a move,” Upendra Rai, whose friend was badly injured, said with tears in his eyes.
For the eager and unsuspecting crowds, Mr. Modi’s rally turned out to be a nightmare. A heavily bandaged Jitender Mistry had injuries in the chest, arm, chin and ear.
“I fell unconscious for a while when the blast took place. When I regained consciousness, I started screaming, bomb phata [bomb has exploded]! Had I anticipated any danger I would never have come for this rally. I am not going to attend any more rallies. I have wife and four children to take care of,” said Mr. Mistry, who works as a repairman.
Many victims accused the Nitish Kumar government of hatching a conspiracy.
“If he did not want this rally, he should have just stopped it. This is a conspiracy by the Chief Minister,” Mukesh Singh said.
“This is the government’s conspiracy. Mr. Kumar wants to take revenge on the people,” Mr. Mishra, an injured BJP worker, alleged.
The emergency ward of the hospital was full of people with bandaged limbs and bloodied bodies. The deceased were brought to the hospital with severed limbs and body parts, making identification difficult.
In response to a question at a press conference here, Director-General of Police Abhayanand said the police did not request cancellation of the rally when the first blast occurred.
Initially as the explosions started at the Gandhi Maidan, BJP leaders on the stage tried to calm the crowds saying those were the sounds of tyres bursting and firecrackers.
This article has been corrected for an editing error.