While Jammu and Kashmir police maintains that the explosion, which killed three Mumbai women commuting by a Tempo Traveller at Bijbehara town, was caused by an LPG cylinder, cops have obtained call detail records of the driver’s mobile phone and found that most of the calls made to him were by his employers. Also, the driver stopped the vehicle at two locations as requested by the tourists before the blast. The first stoppage was at a dry fruit shop and the other one was at a dhaba.
The explosion occurred after the van had covered a few metres from a toll point where it had paid Rs 30.
Additional director general (L&O), Jammu and Kashmir police, Rajendra Kumar, said, “We are investigating the case from all possible angles. We have ruled out any possibility of a terror strike; it was a cylinder blast. However, we would get a clear picture once the forensic laboratory report on the nature of explosive is received.”
Another senior IPS officer who is closely supervising the investigation said, “We questioned the driver of the Tempo Traveller, Ashok Kumar Gupta (40), who is from Udhampur and has been driving in Jammu for a long time for his employers M/s Bhagwati Travels.”
According to the officer, preliminary inquiries have revealed that Hurriyat leaders had called for a bandh on Saturday, condemning the alleged custodial killing of a young boy by the army. The route the driver had taken (Brijbehara-Anantnag-Pahalgam) was deserted and no villagers were out on the streets. Hence, no independent witnesses to the blast.
Two of those injured in the explosion are still admitted at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences. One of them is extremely critical.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr Reyaz Ahmed Rangrezshah, deputy superintendent of the hospital, said, “Out of the two patients admitted one of is very critical. She has sustained multiple splinter wounds on her head and other parts of the body. Some fragments have even injured her brain, and operating upon her is just taking too much risk. Though we have declared her brain-dead, we are closely monitoring her.”
Dr Reyaz added, “We have come across many cases of grenade and other improvised explosive device blasts and from our experience and nature of injuries sustained by the victims, we are confident that it has to be an LPG cylinder blast. The splinters removed from the body of the victims corroborate our claims.”
Meanwhile, a team of forensics scientists from Srinagar collected the samples from the blast site on Sunday.
Inayat Ullah Khan, director, Forensic Science Laboratory, Jammu and Kashmir, said, “Though samples have been collected, they have not come to our laboratory yet. We are expecting the samples within a day or two and accordingly our team would start the analysis.”
Police have registered a case under section 3 (5) of The Explosives Act. When asked why that’s the case, when cops are not completely sure about the nature of the blast, an officer clarified that the aforementioned section has been applied, because they were uncertain about the nature of the explosive.
“In case the findings of FSL confirm it was an LPG cylinder blast, we will register a case of negligence against the driver,” he added.