BY JEHANGIR ALI
Sept. 27: Terror struck the nation’s capital again on a Saturday, this time in south Delhi’s Mehrauli market where a low-intensity bomb placed in a tiffin box exploded, killing a 10-year-old boy and injuring at least 20 people, seven of them critically. Another person died of injuries late on Saturday night.
The attack took place two weeks after the September 13, 2008 serial blasts here which claimed over 23 lives, and exactly one week after the police busted an Indian Mujahideen module allegedly involved in the blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Mumbai. The past two incidents of terror bomb attacks in Delhi (Sarojini Nagar on Diwali eve in 2005 and the Delhi serial blasts of September 13 this year) also took place on Saturdays.
Intelligence sources suspected Saturday’s blast could be a retaliation to the busting of the IM module or aimed at stirring communal trouble ahead of the festive season. Union home minister Shivraj Patil, who has been at the receiving end from the Opposition and UPA allies alike for his alleged inept handling of the security situation, avoided the media. Late on Saturday evening his office issued a brief statement condemning the blast.
Deputy commissioner of police (south) H.G.S. Dhaliwal cited eye-witnesses as saying that two men wearing a pair black jeans and black T-shirts, riding a black motorcycle with a Delhi registration number, dropped a black polythene bag containing a tiffin box opposite an electronics shop in the flower market at about 2.15 pm. The market is barely a few hundred metres from the Qutub Minar.
“The bomb exploded moments after Santosh, a 10-year-old boy returning from school, picked it up to return it to the motorcycle riders, but it exploded killing him on the spot,” Vipin Chabbra, an electrical goods shop owner, said. Another eye-witness, who identified himself only as Devendra, said the men were lean. He said the rider was wearing helmet and the pillion-rider had tied a handkerchief across his face. Devendra’s two siblings were missing after the blast. “No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. We are investigating the matter,” Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. The police has detained nine people for questioning — five were detained at IGI Airport and two each in Mehrauli and Sarita Vihar.
The blast bore a striking resemblance to the September 13, 2008 serial blasts that hit Gaffar
Market in Karol Bagh, Connaught Place and Greater Kailash I, the sources said. The ingredients used in the Mehrauli blast was a small quantity of ammonium nitrate along with sulphur and potassium. Ammonium nitrate was also used in the September 13 serial blasts.
“Ammonium nitrate was loosely packaged with nails, which acted as shrapnel and caused injuries. A small quantity of sulphur was used to create dark smoke and potassium was used as the trigger material. The bomb exploded due to friction with the atmosphere and contact with the nails,” a Delhi police official said. “Such bombs are usually made by militants associated with the Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami outfit,” the official added.
Police sources said the bombers could have come from Lado Sarai area, from where low-intensity blasts have been reported in the past. They could have fled to Gurgaon in Haryana after executing the blasts. Mehrauli is located on the border with Haryana. The police has sounded an alert for the two suspects. “Extensive checking is being undertaken to catch them,” joint commissioner of police (southern range) Ajay Kashyap said. Checking of vehicles has been intensified at the Delhi-Gurgaon border.
2 killed, 17 injured in Delhi blast
Onkar Singh in New Delhi, September 27, 2008
Two persons were killed and 17 injured in a blast in Mehrauli market in New Delhi on Saturday.
According to eye-witnesses, two men riding on a motorcycle dropped a black polythene bag in the market area and left. A 13-year-old boy Santosh Kumar picked up the bag to give it back to the bikers. They refused and fled the place, but the boy was still keen on giving it to them, when it exploded killing him instantaneously and injuring 18 others.
The injured victims were taken to All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital.
One of the injured — a 60-year-old unidentified man whose cervical was badly fractured — succumbed at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences late in the evening, AIIMS sources said.
Delhi has been put on high alert.
The locals of Ward No. 8, where the blast took place, mostly shop-keepers, voiced their anger at the lax security arrangements in the national capital, in spite of the serial blasts two weeks ago.
The were also angry at the delayed response by the police forces, which reached the blast site late
“The public rushed the injured to AIIMS, not the police,” said an eye-witness.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that the party condemned the incident and paid its condolences to the victims. “This is a war against India and the government of India should deal firmly with the terrorists,” he said.
Fire engines and ambulances were rushed to the spot. The shops in the locality were shut down.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who received lot of stick because of September 13 serial bomb blasts, called an emergency meeting of senior officers, Intelligence Bureau, Research & Analysis Wing and Delhi police soon after the Mehrauli bomb blast around 2.15 pm to take stock of the situation and report to Sonia Gandhi.
“I will ask my officers to brief you,” Patil told journalists who wanted to know what he had to say about the law and order situation now, particularly when he is expected to review the terror situation in Shimla on Monday where chief ministers of norther states will participate.
“Special Branch is investigating the incident and after we get the information, we will share it with the media,” Delhi police PRO Rajan Bhagat told rediff.com.
BJP’s nominee for the post of Delhi chief minister Vijay Kumar Malhotra visited the site and expressed shock over the incident.
AIIMS trauma centre confirmed the death of two persons. Officers of the Delhi police requested the media not to speculate.
Former director general of Punjab police K P S Gill said that the blast looks to be a crude bomb blast.
“We will have to wait for more details. We need to rework our strategy against terrorists who are spreading terror by carrying out serial blasts in various cities,” Gilll told rediff.com.
Delhi has been put on high alert and its units are looking out for two motorcycle-riding terrorists who carried out this attack as they were identified by the locals who saw them placing the bomb.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family members of the boy who was killed in the blast.
She said the Delhi government would also provide Rs 50,000 to each of the injured person and would give all necessary medical assistance free of charge to them.
Condemning the incident, she said, “It is sorry to hear that yet another blast has taken place in the city. Our government will give compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the dead and Rs 50,000 as well free treatment to those injured in the blast.”
Dikshit visited the hospital to meet the injured soon after her arrival from New York, where she had gone to attend a UN-sponsored round-table discussion on environmental sustainability.