M A I N   N E W S

Witnesses fail to identify suspects
Hope now on art student in Varanasi hospital
Shahira Naim

Lucknow, March 12
One of the art students recuperating in the ICU ward of Sir Sundarlal Hospital is confident that he would be able to draw the sketch of the culprit as soon as he is better. The doctors treating him have passed on this vital information to the district administration.

This student admitted to the cardiac thoracic ICU was preparing for the entrance test of the BFA course to the Department of Fine Arts at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. He along with his friends was present at the cantonment railway station that evening drawing sketches of human figures when the bomb went off.

According to Dr D.K. Singh, incharge of the ICU , he is now much better and sure of being able to help the investigation by drawing a sketch of the culprit who he remembers placing a bag which later went off.

Dr Singh also confirmed the death of six-year old Mohit Verma yesterday following head injuries suffered in the blast. With this the official death figures goes up to19.

Most of the patients now in two hospitals are “stable and out of danger”.

Meanwhile, in a major setback to investigations in the Varanasi bomb blast case, the two suspects detained by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with the twin blasts failed the identification test by key eyewitnesses, official sources confirmed today.

However, they had not been officially released till late Sunday evening as their antecedents were still being investigated, informed highly placed STF sources.

Sadiq Ali and Ansar Ali, who were detained from Aggarwal dharmshala in Hardoi on Friday because their faces reportedly bore resemblance to the sketches released by the police, were paraded a number of times before the two witnesses at a hotel in the temple town yesterday.

After the identification parade, the two eyewitnesses said they were not the same persons who had allegedly kept a bag containing the bomb at Godaulia market on the evening of the blast on March 7.

After the eyewitnesses' refusal to recognise them, an embarrassed STF washed its hands off that line of investigation. However, as the then SSP of Varanasi had matched their photographs with the sketches at a crowded press conference, he had to pay a price by being relieved of his post.

Meanwhile, an STF team that had been sent to Shahjahanpur, where the suspects claimed to have stayed before reaching Hardoi, and another to Muzaffarpur in Bihar, their hometown, have returned with some information which is being verified with their statements to see if any clue can be established pointing to their connivance in the blast.

Speaking on condition of anonymity , a senior STF official said, “this kind of one step forward two step backwards is very common in our profession. Please bear with us. The Akshardham Temple investigation took one and a half years to solve. At least give us one month”.

Protest against attacks

A number of social organisations today staged protest demonstrations against the terror attacks in Sankat Mochan temple and the cantonment railway station on March 7.

Renowned bollywood scriptwriter Javed Akhtar, social activist Swami Agnivesh and human rights lawyer Teesta Setalvaad participated in a peace march taken out from outside the BHU gate up to Rajendra Prasad Ghat. — PTI

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