//Uncanny similarity in Varanasi, Delhi blasts

Uncanny similarity in Varanasi, Delhi blasts

Prashant Pandey, The Hindu, Mar 10, 2006

Pressure cooker bombs used in both cases

NEW DELHI: Among other factors that make the serial blasts in Delhi last year and the explosions that rocked Varanasi this past Tuesday look uncannily similar is the use of pressure cooker as an explosive device.

The Uttar Pradesh police confirmed on Thursday that one of the devices which was defused at Godolia in Varanasi just in time was kept in a pressure cooker. The bomb that exploded at Sankat Mochan was also suspected to have been kept in a pressure cooker.

In Delhi last year, the police had suspected the use of pressure cooker in the blast at Sarojini Nagar though there was no conclusive evidence. "A carton of pressure cooker was identified by one of the witnesses but he was not sure whether a pressure cooker was used," said an officer associated with investigations. However, there were reports that some pieces of metals, which could have been of a pressure cooker, were found lying at the blast site.

The officer said the pressure cooker could be extremely lethal if RDX is kept in it as the temperature rises to about 3,000 degrees Celsius when the explosive is detonated. "Exploding at such high temperature, pieces of metals coming off the utensil would become lethal shrapnel," he said. Investigations had confirmed that RDX was indeed used in the blasts at Paharganj and Sarojini Nagar, last year. In Varanasi, however, the chemical used is said to ammonium nitrate, which is not as lethal as RDX.

What has baffled the police, however, is that pressure cooker bombs, as they are referred to, have been widely used by Mao extremists in Nepal. There have been instances of the extremists using the same to blow up transformers, damage statues and cause damage to buildings. While none of these explosions led to heavy casualties, there is little denying the potential of this particular improved explosive device. Nepalese authorities, in a raid, in January had recovered detonators, wires, 10 kg of soda and a five-litre pressure cooker, which had the "total combined strength of blowing up more than 80 vehicles".