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6 killed in Ludhiana cinema blast
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 14
Six persons were blown to pieces and 25 injured, some of them seriously, in a bomb blast and subsequent stampede at the Shingar cinema hall near the Samrala chowk here this evening.

The bomb was believed to be an RDX device.

Four of the six dead in the Shingar bomb blast were identified as Naushad, Narinder, Hiral Lal and Shahub-ud-din.

The incident took place right under the nose of the police post, located on the cinema premises.

The blast took place at 8:35 p.m. when the hall, screening Bhojpuri movie “Janam Janam ka Saath”, was packed to capacity with 700 people watching it. The bomb was suspected to have been kept in a handbag in the front row of the cinema hall.

The impact of the blast was so great that bodies rolled several times in the air before falling on the ground. A child's body was entangled in chairs. Pieces of three other bodies were also scattered in the hall.

Eyewitnesses said the impact was maximum on the front row. Many people were injured later when a stampede took place as the viewers panicked and tried to rush outside the hall. Many broke windowpanes of the hall to escape.

Many Muslims were watching the movie to celebrate Id. Munna Anjum, a relative of an injured Kitabuddin, said his uncle had gone to watch a movie with his family to celebrate the occasion. He did not know that he would return with a serious injury. His condition was stated to be critical.

Another man, who could not be identified, lost both his legs that were blown off. He was conscious but in a state of shock. He was brought to the CMC hospital, where he was not able to tell his name.

It was a providential escape for Ram Avtar, who was sitting in the front row. He had gone to urinate when the bomb went off. He was in a state of shock though he did not sustain any injury.

The police was trying to find out the description of two persons who might have slipped out of the hall minutes before the blast.

Sources said none of the six dead could be terror suspects as per the investigations so far. The cinema security guard had not been able to provide any leads so far.

SSP R.K. Jaiswal said that six deaths were confirmed. The bomb was being suspected to be RDX, as there was no fire in the hall. Had there been a petrol bomb, fire would have broken out.

He said security was beefed up in the entire city, especially in the Muslim-dominated areas. Strict measures were being taken so that there was no communal tension in any area. The Samrala Chowk area was converted into a police cantonment. Forensic experts were inspecting the spot. A pit was created at the site of the blast.

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Alert in State
Bid to disturb peace: Govt
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The blast today put the Punjab government and the police on their toes as the former described it as a “planned attempt to disturb peace and communal harmony in the state.”

The blast has taken place in less than 72 hours of the bombings in Ajmer during Ramzan.

Incidentally, the blast took place in a cinema hall, which has a police post on its campus. Being a Sunday and the Id day, the cinema hall was overflowing with film enthusiasts.

While the victims and their families criticised the security agencies for their failure to prevent the blast, the agencies were still elusive on what led to this tragic incident, majority of victims of which were migrants.

An alert has been sounded in the state, which is in the middle of holding of Ram Leelas ahead of Dasehra and Divali celebrations.

DGP N.P.S. Aulakh said the miscreant(s) were probably in a hurry as they left the bomb in the second row of the cinema hall during the intermission.

He said forensic experts were being rushed to the spot.

While Aulakh held that it was a low-intensity explosive device, others said it was a high-intensity device, probably containing RDX.

Media adviser to the Chief Minister and official spokesman for the Punjab government Harcharan Bains said it was a “well-planned move to disturb peace in the state.” He, however, hastened to add that it was too early to say about any motives behind the gory incident.

“The initial report of the police is awaited. The Punjab government is fully determined to foil any attempt to disturb peace and communal harmony in the state. However, at the moment, there appears to be no reason for any one to disturb peace and communal harmony in the state,” he added.

While the government was guarded in its initial reaction to the blast, president of the Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta reiterated that it was the handiwork of the people who had the backing of a former Chief Minister and a former DGP of the state, who had been harbouring terrorists on the pretext of rehabilitating them.

“I have been shouting from the roof of my house for the past three years that certain people were harbouring terrorists, but no one listened to me. Now, the result is out before every one,” added Bitta in a brief conversation with The Tribune late tonight.

It may be pertinent to mention here that the venue of the bombing tonight, Singhar cinema, is located in the periphery of the Punjab National Bank which had witnessed the biggest ever bank dacoity in early 80s when the terrorism in Punjab was at its peak.

Newly appointed president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was also guarded in her initial reaction to the blast, maintaining that the Congress was always opposed to any attempt to disturb peace or communal harmony in the state. She wanted that the intelligence and security agencies should be on extra alert as it was the festival season during which antisocial elements would try to disturb peace and communal harmony.

Teams of forensic experts and intelligence agencies have also made a dash to Ludhiana.

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CM announces Rs 2 lakh compensation

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will visit the city tomorrow and enquire about the health of the injured in the Shingar bomb blast case, besides taking stock of the security situation in the state. Deputy commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar said the Chief Minister had announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased. The government would bear all expenses of the treatment of the injured. The DC said most of the killed and injured were hosiery labourers.

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Centre seeks details

New Delhi, October 14
The Centre tonight got in touch with the Punjab government seeking details about the explosion in Ludhiana.

Official sources in the union home ministry said the Centre had spoken to officials concerned in the Punjab government, asking a complete picture of the incident.

The union home secretary, after talking to the Punjab chief secretary, apprised home minister Shivraj Patil of the situation. — PTI

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