Low-intensity crude devices used; Shahi Imam appeals for calm
PROBE UNDER WAY: Police personnel examining the blast site inside the Jama Masjid in New Delhi on Friday. The explosions occurred soon after the evening prayers creating panic among the people . — Photo: Kamal Narang
NEW DELHI: Fourteen persons, including a woman and a girl, were injured in two explosions inside the Jama Masjid in the Walled City area here soon after evening prayers on Friday. Initial investigations indicated that low-intensity crude bombs were used. No outfit has claimed responsibility for the blasts.
According to eyewitnesses, the first explosion took place at 5-20 p.m., soon after the `namazis’ went to a tank at the centre of the mosque to clean themselves. "As soon as I got up after namaz, I heard a loud explosion. I saw a person standing near the tank being thrown away in the impact of the blast. He sustained injuries in the thigh and legs," said Mohammad Adil.
Realising that it was a bomb blast, the mosque authorities immediately urged the `namazis’ to stay away from a polythene bag found near the tank. Policemen stationed outside Gate No. 1 of the mosque rushed inside.
Just then, the second bomb exploded and more people were injured. They were taken to the nearby Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narain Hospital, where they were stated to be out of danger.
The Jama Masjid’s Shahi Imam appealed to the people over the public address system to maintain calm. He said the explosions were the acts of certain people who wanted to whip up communal passions and create disturbance in the country. He asked the people to pray for communal harmony.
Police Commissioner K.K. Paul, who arrived at the spot, urged the people not to be carried away by rumours.
Even as a forensic team was gathering evidence from the explosion sites, hundreds of people gathered outside Gate No. 1 and shouted slogans.
Delhi Lieutenant-Governor B.L. Joshi visited the masjid and he, along with Dr. Paul, went to the hospital to meet the victims. Enquiries showed that both bombs were kept in two polythene bags near the tank.
The bombs appear to be similar to the ones used by the Pakistan-based top Lashkar-e-Taiba militant, Abdul Karim Tunda, to trigger explosions in the capital in 1996-98.
Initial investigations indicated that no timer device was used, creating a strong suspicion that chemicals, readily available in the market, were used to prepare the bombs.
According to the police sources, Tunda was an expert in preparing bombs using potassium chlorate or ammonium nitrate with sulphuric acid. He would keep the two chemicals in a container in such a way that the bomb would explode after a while.
Focus on local groups
Though the police are probing the role of all extremist outfits, for the time being they are focussing on local groups suspected to be operating from Delhi or neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, it is learnt. "The nature of injuries suggests that the explosions were carried out just to create terror. The real motive behind the blasts was not to kill but to send across some message," said a police officer.