M A I N   N E W S

Attempt to destroy social fabric: PM

Ahmedabad, July 28
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today came to soothe tensions and meet persons injured in Saturday blasts here, but Ahmedabad was still nursing its wounds, two days after 50 persons were killed in a series of 21 carefully choreographed bombings.

As the 200 injured recovered painfully in hospitals across this Gujarat city and the families of the dead mourned for their loved ones, the Prime Minister sought to make an important point when he came here for a whirlwind visit lasting just about two hours.

Accompanied by Sonia Gandhi and home minister Shivraj Patil, Manmohan Singh visited the Civil Hospital, where a majority of the injured were being treated and where several people were killed when a bomb exploded on Saturday evening. Later they also stopped at two other hospitals to meet some of those who survived the terror strike.

He vowed to defeat forces, who were aiming to destroy India’s social fabric and praised the people of Gujarat for their resilience as he announced more relief from the Central government — the kin of those killed would get Rs 3.5 lakh instead of the Rs 1 lakh announced on Saturday night and those injured would get Rs 50,000.

“I have come to express our solidarity with the people of Gujarat in their hour of crisis. I commend the people of Gujarat for the resilience they have shown,” he said.

“These terrorist acts are aimed at destroying our social fabric, undermining communal harmony and demoralising our people. As the people of Gujarat have shown so admirably, these efforts will not succeed.” With Chief Minister Narendra Modi by his side, Manmohan Singh said all political parties, the Central and state governments, the central and state police and intelligence authorities and civil society groups should cooperate and work together to this end.

Notwithstanding their efforts, the tension was palpable.

Flights to the city from New Delhi, for instance, were running virtually empty with people clearly unwilling to come here.

Shops downed their shutters and malls were closed, schools and colleges also shut down early.

“The city is yet to bounce back to normalcy,” Vinod, a resident of the old city of Ahmedabad, told IANS.

As Ahmedabad picked up the pieces and tried to carry on, the ripple effect was felt everywhere.

A number of bomb scares were reported from various parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh and Kerala, where police were kept on their toes trying to scotch rumours and keep peace.

Hoax calls and panic over abandoned objects were reported in Karnataka, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

In Kerala, for instance, security personnel searched a school, the All India Radio station at Alappuzha, and a State Bank of Travancore branch on the outskirts of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. A passenger train also had to be detained.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan convened a high-level meeting to review the security preparedness. The famed Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayoor was under special watch.

In cities like Pune, hoax SMSs to avoid busy areas triggered anxious moments.

The tension was evident in West Bengal and in Bihar too where security was intensified.

In Madhya Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state, night screening of films were banned as a precautionary measure. There were also reports that devotees had been asked not to carry coconuts or any offerings to temples in the state.

Security was being constantly reviewed in all major cites with additional forces being deployed in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

Crowded markets, shopping malls, railway stations and airports were in for extra vigil.

As the consecutive blasts - in Bangalore on Friday and in Ahmedabad on Saturday - kept the country on edge, investigating agencies tried to get close to the conspiracy.

In Tamil Nadu, four suspects were arrested today and one yesterday.

Sheikh Abdul Ghaffoor was arrested yesterday in Tirunelveli and he named two others.

According to officials, on initial interrogation Ghafoor revealed that he was an operative of a terrorist ring that calls itself “believers in one god”, whose kingpin is said to be Pakistan-trained P. Ali Abdullah, arrested in 2003 and lodged in high security Puzhal prison, 20 km from the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

Police officials said the ring had worked out the logistics of the back-to-back bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

In Ahmedabad, Abdul Halim, a suspected member of the outlawed Students Islamic Movment of India (SIMI) arrested yesterday, was remanded in 14 days’ police custody.

As sleuths went about their work, the injured struggled for life.

Like six-year-old Muhammad Idris, who is in a coma, his mother Sukrabanu is also in hospital but out of danger. — IANS

Another bomb defused in Surat

Ahmedabad: One more bomb was defused by the bomb disposal squad in the Varacha area of Surat today, a senior police official said. “The bomb disposal squad has successfully defused a bomb found today in a residential society in the Varacha area in Surat city and all the circuits were disconnected,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Surat, V. Chandrashekhar told PTI. A packet of ammonium nitrate, a packet shrapnels, two detonators, one battery, and a circuit were found wrapped in a newspaper along with the bomb, he said. — PTI



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