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Blasts kill 5 at Modi rally venue, bloody poll season

Three persons have been arrested so far. ‘Many of the accused in the blasts are from Jharkhand,’ additional director general of police (law and order) S N Pradhan said. Putting out the theory that they might have carried explosives from Jharkhand, he said all accused named by Bihar police are from that state.

Two blasts took place close to the stage from where Modi was scheduled to address the rally at the Gandhi Maidan. ‘The low intensity indicated that the perpetrators wanted a stampede like situation,’ said a senior government official.

Modi, who spoke shortly after the blasts took place, did not mention the tragedy in his speech, but later called them ‘deeply saddening and unfortunate’ on Twitter. At the end of his speech he appealed for peace and calm.

Talking to the reporters later in the evening, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar ruled out any security lapses in the arrangements for the rally. He said the blasts were an attempt to disturb the law and order situation in the state. ‘There were no intelligence inputs either from the Centre or from the state,’ he said. ‘I would like to assure BJP there were no shortcomings in the arrangements. But, despite the arrangements, blasts had taken place, which is a matter of great concern for the state,’ he added. Appealing for peace, Kumar said, ‘Some elements are trying to create trouble. We have to face (them) unitedly.’

Meanwhile, police confirmed that six low intensity blasts occurred in the outer periphery of the Gandhi Maidan, the venue of the rally, and one at the Patna railway station. According to agency reports, four more live bombs were recovered from various spots and were deactivated. National Investigation Agency reached the spot and began primary investigation.

Preliminary enquiries revealed there was similarity in the blasts at Patna with those in Surat, Ahmedabad and Bangalore earlier. Traces of ammonium nitrate have been found in the explosives, in which timers were used. ‘It was an improvised explosive device but of a lower intensity,’ said an intelligence official hinting towards Indian Mujahideen.

Bihar, off late, has turned into a hub of Islamic terror activities given its porous international borders with Nepal.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the blasts and appealed for calm. He spoke to Nitish Kumar and asked him to ensure that perpetrators are punished. Home minister Sushil Shinde also spoke to the CM. The home ministry has sought a report from the state government on the explosions and has sent teams from central security agencies to the state.

Nitish Kumar ordered an inquiry into the blasts and cancelled his scheduled Munger and Nalanda visits.  He also called for an emergency meeting of senior police officers to take stock of the situation.
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