Ahmedabad, Oct. 17: Gujarat’s brittle calm came under stress for the third successive day as a crude bomb exploded in a school compound this evening in the walled city area. No one was injured in the blast that occurred around 5.40 pm in the Khamasa locality, police said.
The explosion, which comes close on the heels of two others that left 14 injured in Godhra and Lunavada bus stations, follows last night’s arrest of a key accused in the February 27 Godhra train carnage, the original flashpoint of the riots.
Nanhen Mian, alias Nikku Chaudhary, was picked up in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, from the house of his in-laws by the special operations group of Gujarat police, which is bringing him to the state after getting a transit remand.
Mian’s arrest follows the capture of another prime accused, Rezaque Kurkur, in Vadodara. The total arrests in the case have now gone up to 69, while 54 are absconding.
The police said analysis of calls made from an STD booth owned by Kurkur led to Mian’s arrest. The booth, at Aman guesthouse in Signal Falia in Godhra, is very near to platform number one of the station where the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was torched.
Hundreds of calls were made to foreign countries from this guesthouse after the carnage, the police said.
Mian, a dismissed CRPF constable, has revealed the names of 14 other co-accused, the police in Rampur said, adding that they were also involved in illegal trading of arms and narcotics.
According to the police, Kurkur masterminded the attack on the Sabarmati Express. Investigators are now trying to extract information on the source of the combustible material that caused the fire.
The hunt for two more crucial absconders — disqualified councillor of the Godhra civic body, Farukh Bhana, and tea vendor Salim Panwala — have also intensified, police sources said.
Bhana was reportedly with Kurkur during the burning of the compartment, while Panwala was instrumental in spreading the rumour that a girl from a minority community had been kidnapped by kar sevaks travelling in that coach.
Panchmahal district police today ruled out any “big conspiracy” behind the blasts at the Godhra and Lunavada bus stations.
District superintendent of police Narsimha Komar said 25 people had been interrogated so far but none had revealed anything that pointed to a big conspiracy.
Both bombs were “crude” and locally made and did not require any expertise, Komar said.