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Blast jitters after PM arrival

Guwahati, April 8: A bomb blast killed one person and sent shivers down the spine of the security establishment when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of a second bridge over the Brahmaputra in Guwahati.

The blast occurred on F.A. Road at Kumarpara, which is within 10 km of the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium at Amingaon, the venue of the function.

The condition of three of the 11 people wounded in the blast is critical, doctors at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said. Five others are undergoing treatment at Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital.

Dispur sounded an alert in Upper Assam immediately after the explosion in Guwahati in view of the Prime Minister’s scheduled visit to Dibrugarh tomorrow to lay the foundation stone of the gas cracker project at Lepetkata.

Monu Begum, a witness to the explosion, said she saw two youths on a motorcycle slowing down at a speedbreaker before hitting an auto. “They fell down but got up quickly and scampered away. The bomb exploded immediately after,” she recalled.

The explosion was so powerful that the motorcycle was hurled several feet above the ground. Windowpanes of several houses in the vicinity were shattered.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) D.K. Pathak said the two youths were probably carrying the bomb to a specific location when they met with an accident, which triggered the explosion. “I am not in a position to fix blame for the blast on any individual or group. The case is being investigated,” he said.

Inamul Haque, a 30-year-old tailor, died while being taken to hospital. Haque was from Dhubri. Sikander Ali, a 13-year-old resident of the area, escaped with hand injuries. Ajay Sarkar, a rickshaw-puller, said he heard a deafening noise and felt something hit him. Sarkar suffered splinter injuries to his legs and chest.

Earlier in the day, there was utter chaos at the foundation ceremony of the second bridge over the Brahmaputra. A near-stampede occurred at the entrance of the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Amingaon when the footfall exceeded the stadium’s seating capacity of 2,500.

When mediapersons stranded outside the gate requested the IGP and senior superintendent of police S.N. Singh to make way for them to enter the venue, the latter allegedly misbehaved with them. The reporters were asked to go “wherever they liked”, which infuriated them and led to a “media boycott”.

The second bridge over the Brahmaputra will be a part of the East-West corridor project. Scheduled to be completed by April 2010, the 1,494-metre-long bridge will be built by the National Highways Authority of India with a budget of Rs 238.44 crore.

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