The blast site on Thursday. Picture by Eastern Projections
Imphal, April 25: It was an unscheduled U-turn that probably saved Congress MLA Bijoy Koijams life as the scooter bomb went off in the heavily-fortified VIP Colony here yesterday.
Had the ruling party MLA from Thongju of Imphal East not made a U-turn after coming out of his official quarters, his three-vehicle convoy would have received the full impact of the blast that left three bystanders wounded.
I was starting out of my quarters around 10am. But as soon as I spotted the lone scooter parked on the roadside, I got suspicious and immediately asked my drivers and guards to take a U-turn back to my quarters, which was close by. If I had proceeded, the scooter bomb would have exploded as I passed by. I thanked god. The bomb exploded as soon as my car stopped at my gate, a shaken Koijam told The Telegraph this morning.
Koijam, however, could not say whether he was the target. I cannot say whether I was the target. What I know for sure is that had I not turned back, I would have run into the blast, he said.
Information and tourism minister T.N. Haokip was sitting down for a quick brunch before starting for office when he heard the explosion. I first thought a cylinder had exploded in my kitchen. My terrified daughter came running to me. Then I learnt that a bomb had exploded near my gate. I rushed out and saw an injured woman running towards my quarters. I was shocked and stunned, Haokip said.
Most of the ministers and MLAs were in their quarters when the blast took place. They said security lapses were to blame for the incident and demanded that responsibility be fixed for allowing the breach of security.
The VIP colony is a heavily guarded zone. It has only one gate, manned by a police team. In addition to the police picket, Manipur Rifles personnel were deployed inside the colony. If the jawans did their duty well, such a thing would not have happened. Responsibility should be fixed, Koijam said.
Condemning the incident, Haokip also blamed the security personnel. The incident is very unfortunate.
Some of the ministers were too shocked to make any comment. They said given the security lapse, anyone could come and hurl a bomb at their residential quarters. Immediately after the blast, some ministers and MLAs called on chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to demand foolproof security for the colony.
There are 10 policemen on duty at the only gate to the colony. In addition to the picket, a mobile police team is regularly stationed near the gate. Another section (12 personnel) of Manipur Rifles is deployed inside the colony.
Police mobile teams frequently patrol the area. All these are in addition to the security guards of one section each (10 to 12 personnel) provided to guard the ministers and MLAs quarters.
The Kangleipak Communist Party (Military Council) today claimed responsibility for yesterdays bomb explosion at VIP colony of Imphal. In a statement, secretary, military affairs committee of the outfit, Lanheiba Meitei, said the blast was to demonstrate the striking prowess of the group.
Police had earlier arrested three suspects in connection with the blast, out of the hundreds of visitors present inside the VIP Colony at the time.