Devesh K. Pandey

24 injured; police believe it is not linked to the recent serial blasts

NEW DELHI: Exactly a fortnight after a series of five blasts rocked the Capital, a bomb exploded in the crowded Mehrauli area of South Delhi on Saturday, claiming the lives of a nine-year-old boy and a 60-year-old unidentified man. Nearly two dozen people were injured.

The police believe that the blast is not linked to the September 13 explosions. However, a red alert has been sounded in the Capital.

According to eyewitnesses, two men riding a black motorcycle dropped a polythene bag containing the bomb near an electrical goods shop at the Mehrauli Sarai market around 2-15 p.m. Nine-year-old Santosh, who was standing nearby, thought the duo had accidentally dropped the bag and picked it up to return it to the riders when the bomb exploded.

The impact of the blast was such that Santosh’s head was blown off and he was tossed into the air.

Tilak Raj, who was in the market, said: “Soon after the blast, the lane was filled with thick smoke. When it cleared, I saw people lying on the road in blood-splattered clothes writhing in pain. A boy was lying motionless.”

Baldev Khattar, who was at the entrance of his electronic goods shop, was injured, but his nephew, Vikas, escaped unhurt as he was inside. Several other shopkeepers and passers-by were injured. “Three of the four shops damaged in the blast belong to the Khattar family,” said Jitender, who works in a utensils shop.

Residents and shopkeepers immediately called up the police and rushed the injured to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Safdarjung Hospital and Fortis Hospital.

The police soon reached the spot and cordoned off the blast site.

By then all shopkeepers in the area had downed the shutters and the market was closed.

Preliminary investigations indicated that the bomb was of a crude nature, very similar to the ones used in the Capital during 1997-98 by a module headed by top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Abdul Karim Tunda, who is now said to be in Pakistan. While the bomb had a chemical-detonation mechanism, nails were used as splinters.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Ajay Kashyap said the bomb was planted by two motorcycle-borne men who were in their early 30s.

They were dressed in black jeans and shirts and were wearing helmets. The motorcycle bore a Delhi registration number.

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