Sixteen people were injured yesterday in a bomb blast, near the ruling BJP’s office in this tech hub, which Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister R Ashok said was an act of terror.
“A bomb-like material on a motorbike exploded around 10.30 am injuring 16 people, including 11 policemen, near the BJP office at Malleswaram in north-west Bangalore,” state Director-General of Police (DGP) Lalrokhuma Pachau said.
Rushing to the blast spot, Ashok said the fact that it (explosion) occurred so near to the BJP office clearly indicated that the terrorists wanted to cause maximum damage to its leaders and cadres, besides spreading panic ahead of the state legislative assembly elections on May 5.
“As a lot of political activity has been going on since the poll schedule was announced last month, hundreds of our cadres and leaders have been visiting the party office daily and hence they were the target of this terror attack,” Ashok said.
Among the five civilians injured, three were women and two teenagers. “The injuries are not so serious and no one is in critical condition. They are being treated in a nearby (state-run) hospital,” Pachau asserted.
The motorcycle was parked between two cars. The blast ripped through the motorcycle and gutted both the vehicles parked near it. There was a loud explosion that rattled doors and windows of surrounding houses. Police cordoned off the entire blast area for study and tests by the state bomb squad, forensic experts and the state-run National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The injured policemen were seated in a mini bus parked nearby as they were on security duty for the upcoming election. “We do not know the type of bomb that was used. The matter is under investigation. NIA and forensic experts are studying the three charred vehicles and other burnt-out material to find what sort of bomb or materials were used to trigger the blast,” Pachau said.
Appealing to people across the state to remain calm and maintain peace, Ashok said there was no cause for panic and no rumours should be allowed to spread. “The culprits will be punished. Special teams are being set up to find out who was behind this cowardly act and why the attacks were planned when elections are due,” Ashok observed. Coincidentally, a similar blast took place exactly three years ago, on April 17, 2010, outside the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium before an IPL match.
“The pattern appears to be same. Cause panic and maximum damage to innocent people and their property,” Ashok said. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was in Kolkata, said a probe had been ordered into the blast.
Fourth terror attack on city
The blast took place exactly three years after the twin explosions at Chinnaswamy Stadium in the city centre, ahead of an IPL T20 cricket match, which left 15 injured. The first terror attack in Bangalore was at the famous Indian Institute of Science (IISc) on the evening of Dec 28, 2005, when delegates coming out of an international conference were fired on, leading to the death of MC Puri, a retired professor of IIT-Delhi. Four people were injured in that attack.
In the second terror attack in the city on July 25, 2008, one person was killed and six people were injured when a series of bombs fitted with timer devices went off in a span of 45 minutes in central, east and west Bangalore.
Despite rebukes, Congress leader tweets BJP stands to gain from blast
While the party made it clear that Shakeel Ahmad’s tweet this morning on the bomb blast near the BJP office in Bangalore was out of line, the Congress spokesperson did a Take 2 in the evening, tweeting, “Karnataka HM R Ashok says blast near our office was aimed to kill BJP leaders due to elections. This will also generate some sympathy.”
Ahmad provoked rebukes from senior Congress leaders with his first tweet, posted an hour after the blast. “If the blast near BJP’s office in Bangalore is a terror attack, it will certainly help the BJP politically on the eve of election,” he said. In response, a Twitter account for the BJP in Karnataka, said, “Congress Spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad’s tweet on blasts in Bangalore is insensitive and inhumane.”
The Congress appeared to agree. Union Minister of State for Home RPN Singh, said, “In matters relating to terror attacks, no political capital should be extracted.” Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi reiterated that message. “The incident is attached to terrorism... it must not be looked in the way of political profit and loss,” he said.
However, Ahmad justified his tweets by saying “I am in politics for 28 years, I would not give any irresponsible statement. Their Home Minister has said that it was a conspiracy to attack the BJP in the state. The blasts should not be linked to politics, but it is obvious that you gain sympathy if a blast occurs in front of your house.”
Difficult to believe a terror act took place in a residential area: Locals
A deafening blast that shattered window panes of several houses and triggered fire and smoke outside — all in a flash — left residents of one of the city’s popular tree-lined residential areas scared yesterday. “We heard a very loud sound. Our window panes broke and some vessels on the kitchen shelf fell down,” said S Shantha, resident of an apartment block near the BJP office. Residents, the policemen and passersby initially thought that a gas cylinder in one of the vehicles might have exploded.
The area is so known for being quiet that residents did not suspect a bomb could have exploded till they saw TV channels reporting that it could be a terror act. “It is difficult to believe that a terror act would take place in this residential area,” said Shantha. Along with the police vehicle at least two cars and two two-wheelers were gutted while parts of a motorbike, in which the suspected explosive device might have been kept, were strewn around the site.
“We were in our vehicle when we heard a loud blast. Soon our van was filled with smoke and we also noticed that it had caught fire,” said Jayanna, a policeman who was in a police van along with over 20 others on guard duty at the BJP office.