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Blasts ‘exact match’ fall in net
Raj Babbar at the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi on Friday. Picture by Sanjay Gupta

Varanasi, March 10: The sketches of the Varanasi suspects seem to have yielded results within a day of their release with the arrest in Hardoi town of two men whose faces apparently are an “exact match”.

Six associates staying with the duo at a guesthouse in the town, 210 km from Lucknow, for the past one week have been detained for questioning.

Hardoi police chief Kashinath Singh said the two suspects have been identified as Md Ansar and Sadiq.

They reportedly told the police they were from Muzaffarpur in Bihar and supplied spectacles to retail shops. They claimed they had been doing just that in Hardoi for the past one week. The other six worked under them.

“There are enough contradictions in their statements. We have informed the special task force (STF) investigating the blast case,” Singh said.

“It’s difficult to say if they are the ones we want,” the STF superintendent said. “But we will examine them.”

The police have also learnt that Salar, the Lashkar-e-Toiba militant gunned down near Lucknow on Wednesday, may have been in Varanasi on Tuesday. Two railway officials, Arun Kumar and Vikram Sharma, claim they spotted Salar at the station before the blasts.

“We’ll soon find out what he was doing in Varanasi on the day of the blasts,” state police chief Yashpal Singh said.

Principal secretary (home) Aloke Sinha said in Lucknow that Salar was listed in FBI files as a Lashkar agent.

The police earlier announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh for any “concrete” lead on the bombers, promising to keep the informer’s identity secret.

Peace moves

Hindus and Muslims in Varanasi have joined hands for communal peace. Hundreds of Muslims gathered at Dhaniabag Maidan this evening with earthen lamps and prayed for the victims.

The prayer was the initiative of Ahmed Khan, secretary to shehnai legend Bismillah Khan who has already inspired scores from his community to donate blood for the injured. The ustad sent a note of thanks to the prayer organisers, saying: “The objective of this cowardly attack on humanity has to be frustrated.”

Resistance against moves to communalise the tragedy came also from the temples.

Last evening, as BJP leader Vinay Katiyar’s dharna inside the Sankat Mochan temple turned provocative, the priests asked him to take his demonstration outside. “Please keep this temple outside politics,” Katiyar was told.

When state Congress chief Salman Khursheed visited the temple yesterday, some Sangh parivar leaders tried to stop him on the ground that he is not a Hindu. But the temple authorities waved him in.

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