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Fear revisits Mumbai in bomb-packed gunny bags

Mumbai, Jan. 28: The city was gripped by panic once more after two bomb blasts in the suburb of Vile Parle last night.

While 30 persons were injured as the first bomb went off around 8.30 last evening in the market area outside Sagar Arcade in Vile Parle (East), near the railway station, the second bomb, detected by sniffer dogs of the bomb squad, exploded at 1 am in an area cordoned off by the police.

There have been no casualties, but two of the injured are in a serious condition, the police said. Anita Indulkar, who is in a critical state and had to be shifted to KEM Hospital from Cooper Hospital, has been badly injured in the left side of her face. Her left eye, jaw and chin have been damaged.

No arrests have been made so far and the investigation is in full swing, a police spokesperson said.

In addition to Mumbai police’s bomb detection squad that is probing the case, a special National Security Guards team from Delhi flew down to the city and visited the spots to examine the type of explosives used in the blast. The team will work with forensic experts who have already been to the spots, police said.

There was fear that the blasts may have been related to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit, who was in the city this evening amid heightened security to inaugurate the Swadeshi Mela.

The two bombs last night were found in almost identical situations. The first bomb, in a gunny bag, was attached to a bicycle. The second was found in a similar bag and attached to a bicycle. Both bicycles had the same kind of locks made by the same company.

The first explosion was so strong that the bicycle was torn into two and the windscreen of a nearby autorickshaw was shattered. Several vegetable vendors in the market were hurt.

Senior inspector Jallinder Khandagale of the bomb detection squad, who supervised the explosion of the second bomb, said the ingredients of the two bombs were similar. They were made up of gelatin sticks, detonators, batteries and wires with timers attached.

A police officer at the Vile Parle station said the bombs were similar to the one used in the Ghatkopar blast of December 2 and another detected in a bus at an Andheri bus stop soon after.

Five arrests have been made so far in the Ghatkopar case and the police reportedly suspect the Students’ Islamic Movement of India’s (SIMI’s) involvement.

The injured in yesterday’s blast were admitted to Nanavati Hospital and Cooper Hospital. Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal visited the spots this morning.

Vajpayee visit

At the Swadeshi Mela at Somaiya Trust Grounds here today, Vajpayee urged the Sangh parivar and Swadeshi Jagran Manch to cooperate with the Centre instead of launching an incessant tirade against it.

“The Manch had all along been creating awareness among the masses about the swadeshi movement. But now the time had come to redefine its role by cooperating with the government and not criticising it,” Vajpayee said.

India has always wanted to achieve self-reliance in various technologies, he said. Though a superpower refused to cooperate in the name of technology control regime, India had overcome the hurdle, Vajpayee said.

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