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Bhujbal says sorry for blast blunder

Mumbai, Aug. 1: Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal has been taken to task by a Muslim group, which says it has been maligned because of the minister’s “ignorance”.

Just after the Ghatkopar blast on Monday, in which three persons died when the rear end of a bomb-laden public bus blew up, Bhujbal had said it was a new group called al Hadiz that was behind the explosion.

Members of al Hadiz have now come out in protest saying they are a strictly religious group with one crore members in the country and that Bhujbal may have meant another group called the Pasban-e-Ehle Hadees, a splinter faction of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Bhujbal, seeing that the matter was developing into a huge controversy, was quick to apologise today. Following a meeting today with al Hadiz leaders, Bhujbal concurred that it was the Pasban-e-Ehle Hadees he was referring to. “It is the group which in Pakistan call themselves the Lashkar-e-Toiba,” Bhujbal said. “This group is one of those that have been banned under Pota (Prevention of Terrorism Act) in India.”

However, senior clerics of the 100-year-old sect are still brimming with anger. “How can he just pick up the mike and announce such a thing to the world'” asked an angry maulvi. “We have no criminal history whatsoever. If they were confused, they could have asked us,” he added.

“It seems to be a campaign to tarnish our image,” said Maulana Abdus Salam Salfi, president of al Hadiz, Mumbai. Salfi, who is planning to hold a news conference to clear the air, said they were “very strict followers of Islam” and condemned “all sorts of violence and terrorist groups”.

The Ghatkopar blast was followed yesterday by the death of Dilnawaz Khan Mustafa — who used to supply explosives for use in Bollywood films — and seven others in a chawl in Jogeshwari. Police have not ruled out a link between the blast in Ghatkopar and yesterday’s explosion in suburban Mumbai and feel some of the recent blasts in the city may have been caused by explosives supplied by the bomb-maker.

Sources in the Bollywood Dummy Effects Association said, though Dilnawaz was listed with the body as an “assistant”, he was not permitted to make bombs. Only a pyrotechnician listed as a “master” can make the explosives. The association added that only the masters are allowed to take explosive material home, that too, just a day before a film’s shoot.

A senior member of the association, Mohammad Iqbal, pointed out that it is illegal to assemble explosives at home.

Police found in Dilnawaz’s house letterheads with the name of his “company”, Vishal Effects, but has now revealed that the man did not have a licence for it.

“We are probing what he was doing assembling explosives at 3 in the morning,” Satyapal Singh, joint commissioner of police (crime), said. “We have to see if this method is used to supply bombs for subversive activities.”

But Bhujbal today said the forensic report of samples from the site showed that the material was of “C-class category”.

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