Patna: At least five people were killed and more than 80 injured as eight bombs exploded in Patna on Sunday, six of them in and around the ground where Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a massive rally just a few hours after the tragedy.
The first blast ripped through a toilet at around 9:15 am at the newly built platform 10 of Patna railway station, killing one person and wounding another. After an hour, by which time Modi had reached Patna, four explosions took place in quick successions near the Hunkar rally venue Gandhi Maidan, killing four others and causing a lot of panic. The second blast took place at Eliphiston cinema hall followed by the other explosions near the rally venue.
As theories of political conspiracy gained ground, a worried Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar cancelled his visit to Munger. He also ruled out any security lapses in the much talked about Hunkar rally while called the multiple blasts a blot on the state.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar questioned the timing of the blasts, adding it appeared to be a "deliberate attempt" to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.
"There were no intelligence inputs either from the Centre or from the state. Whatever was possible to do for this kind of a programme, the administration had done. Security was tightened keeping in mind the BJP rally. Senior police officials had personally monitored the security arrangements at Gandhi Maidan," said Nitish while briefing the media on the blasts.
Nitish, however, questioned the timing of the blasts, adding it appeared to be a "deliberate attempt" to vitiate the atmosphere in the state.
The serial blasts cannot be a coincidence that they occurred on the day of the rally, he asserted. "Whatever happened is not the tradition of Bihar. An attempt was made to disrupt the amity of the state and disturb the law and order situation. The blasts before the BJP rally seems like a deliberate attempt," he told reporters.
"The day and timing of the serial blasts indicate that there was an attempt to vitiate the atmosphere in the state. The timing is very worrying," he said.
The chief minister confirmed that five people had been killed and 83 others injured. He announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the family members of the dead.
On the progress of police investigations, Nitish said that three suspects have been taken into custody and added that one of the suspects has even confessed to his involvement in the case.
The Bihar Chief Minister also added that the state government will fully co-operate with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is investigating the case. The Home Ministry has send a team of seven-member team of NIA and National Security Guards (NSG) officials to investigate multiple bomb blasts in Patna.
Meanwhile, the political fraternity expressed concern over the blasts. While, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the serial blasts on twitter, Congress President Sonia Gandhi released a statement extending her condolences to the family of those killed.
Undeterred by concern on the security of its poster boy Narendra Modi, the BJP chose not to disappoint massive crowd of supporters gathered at Gandhi Maidan.