Guwahati, Nov. 5: Terror struck the Assam capital for the second time in just over a week, co-ordinated blasts in the city’s business district and a suburban locality this evening claiming 11 lives and leaving over 45 wounded.
The first blast ripped through the busy Chai Gali, near Central Jail in Fancy Bazar, around 6.30 pm. Seven persons died in that explosion and 40 more were injured.
Three of those killed in Chai Gali were identified as Asdhiraj Baishya, Puranlal Chaudhury and Monsoon Roy.
The other blast occurred five minutes later at Pathar Quarry in Narengi. Four persons died and six were injured in that incident. Only one of the casualties in the Narengi blast could be immediately identified. Police said the person was Majid Ali, 55.
The officer in-charge of Noonmati police station, Imran Hussain, said the bomb — a timed device — was concealed in a motorcycle parked near Majid’s tailoring shop.
The police official said the toll could go up. “Some of the victims appeared to have been critically injured,” he said.
Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Avinash Joshi, among the first to rush to the Chai Gali blast site, had initially pegged the toll at five.
The injured were taken to Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Civil Hospital and Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH). Sources in the GMCH said more doctors had been summoned to tend to the injured, some of whom were taken to the hospital in handcarts.
There was a shortage of blood and oxygen at the hospitals with people wounded in a bus accident in Udalguri being brought to the hospital around the same time.
“Why us' What wrong have we done'” wailed Phulmati Jha, a relative of one of the victims, amidst the chaos at the GMCH.
A police official said all entry and exit routes to the city were sealed immediately after the blasts.
The deputy commissioner said the perpetrators of the blast at Chai Gali may have targeted the Hindi-speaking community, which dominates the locality. Describing it as a “barbaric act”, Joshi said no effort would be spared to trace and punish the guilty.
Various trade unions and the Purvottar Hindustani Sammelan have called a Kamrup district bandh tomorrow to protest the incident.
Y.L. Karan, the working president of the Purvottar Hindustani Sammelan, said the explosion was a “planned attack on the Hindi-speaking community”.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is in New Delhi, said all possible steps would be taken to help the affected families. Gogoi briefed the Prime Minister’s Office about the incident, after which the Union home ministry convened a high-level meeting to discuss the situation in the state. A meeting of the unified command for counter-insurgency operations will also be held in Guwahati tomorrow.
Railway minister Lalu Prasad issued a statement from the capital, criticising the administration for “failing to protect the Hindi-speaking community”.
The People’s Committee for Peace Initiatives in Assam, which has been campaigning for talks between Ulfa and Delhi, said whoever was behind the blasts had committed a reprehensible act.
Shell-shocked residents of Fancy Bazar said the blast at Chai Gali was the first in the city’s business hub in the past 50 years.
Two back-to-back explosions during Chhath festivities in Soonsali last week killed a boy and left a dozen wounded.