|Bangladeshi police officers stand guard on Monday outside the Dhaka hotel where Pranab Mukherjee had put up. (AP)
Dhaka, March 4: A small bomb exploded outside the hotel in which President Pranab Mukherjee is staying this afternoon.
Police in Dhaka said there is no danger to the security of the President or any other VIP in his entourage. Mukherjee was inside Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon when the bomb exploded around five minutes before 2pm.
“The bomb — little more than a cracker —exploded in the middle of the road about 50 to 70 yards from the gate of the hotel,” Chowdhury Manjurul Kabir, the deputy commissioner of police (Tejgaon division), said. “Such things happen during hartals that the organisers of the hartal try to enforce.”
A statement from the President’s press secretary Venu Rajamony said: “Life in and around the Hotel in Dhaka where the President is staying is completely normal. None of the delegation members heard any explosion nor knew of any such incident. Bangladesh authorities have informed that about an hour back a crude cocktail (bomb) was found and they are investigating into the matter. Indian security officials have expressed the view that this was a minor explosion. Bursting of such cocktails are common in Bangladesh during hartals and cannot be described as a bomb.”
Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of the Opposition and BNP chief, had on Sunday cancelled her appointment with the President citing security reasons during a hartal. In the original schedule, she was expected to call on the President this afternoon.
Mukherjee had returned to the hotel after speaking at Dhaka University where he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Bangladesh President who is also the chancellor of the university.
Today is the second day of the two-day bandh called by the Jamaat-e-Islami in protest against the death sentences given to two of its leaders by the International Crimes Tribunal. The Jamaat has also called the Shahbag demonstrators, who are demanding death penalties for the “traitors of 1971”, “atheists” and “Indian agents”.
Police said one of two youths who threw a bomb in another part of Dhaka last evening was caught by the public and handed over to the police. The other youth fled.