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Bangalore focus in blast

Chennai, May 2: The two bombs that exploded at Chennai in a Guwahati-bound express yesterday were probably planted at the train’s origin in Bangalore and would have gone off in Andhra, where Narendra Modi campaigned hours later, if the train wasn’t late, investigators have said.

The blast killed a woman techie and injured over a dozen in the Kaziranga Express.

Mahesh Agarwal, the IG of the Tamil Nadu crime branch handling the probe, likened the explosives to devices that went off at Modi’s Patna rally last October. But he said the presence of the timer suggested yesterday’s bombs could have been planted before Chennai.

Agarwal released footage from Chennai Central of a bald middle-aged person rushing out of one of the compartments but declined to call him a suspect yet. “We aren’t terming him a suspect but want him to join the investigation to know why he was in such hurry and didn’t return.”

Another officer echoed the view that the bombs were planted elsewhere. “It would have been suicidal for the perpetrators to place them at Chennai as the bombs would have been timed to go off within 20 minutes. Bangalore would have been the most ideal because of the crowd.”

According to an intelligence officer, the 7.25am blast would have occurred after the train, which was running over an hour late, entered Andhra. He suspected the attack was “probably a message” to the BJP mascot. “Since Narendra Modi was campaigning throughout Thursday in Seemandhra, especially in towns the train would have passed, the explosion was most probably a message targeted at him.”

The unintended target, however, was Swathi, a 24-year-old TCS techie returning home to Andhra’s Guntur after training in Bangalore. The bomb was placed below her berth in sleeper coach S4.

“If the blast had occurred in Andhra, Chennai would have been seen as the most likely planting spot. A group of al-Umma suspects was held recently and a Sri Lankan, Sakir Hussain, on Tuesday. He had flown in from Colombo,” said the officer.

Hussain’s arrest followed an IB tip-off that Lankan nationals were being used by ISI officials in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo to infiltrate into India.

A Chennai team is in Karnataka scanning footage from Bangalore City station and also see if the bombs could have been put in the train at one of its six smaller stations en route.