Dhubri, June 15: For once, it was a blast that did not kill or leave anybody wounded. But Ulfa’s umpteenth bicycle bomb certainly left police with a bruised ego.
The outlawed outfit triggered a low-intensity explosion in the high-security police reserve at Bongaigaon in Lower Assam around 1 pm today. As in recent acts of terror by the militant group, the bomb was strapped to a bicycle and parked near the residential quarters. Only a portion of a wall was damaged in the explosion.
As investigators tried to fathom how someone could take a bicycle with a bomb into the reserve without anybody noticing, security in all other police establishments came under scrutiny. Bongaigaon superintendent of police Deepak Kumar said the lack of a proper boundary wall had left the reserve “wide open” and at risk of being attacked.
“Civilians, including relatives of police and homeguards who reside there with families, have easy access to the reserve. It is too early to say anything, but no policeman could have been involved in this,” he added.
The reserve, which houses 200 police personnel and their families, is located behind Bongaigaon College along the road leading to Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd at Dhaligaon.
Although there is a checkpoint at the main entrance to the reserve, the wall along the periphery has gaping holes in it. Some “outsiders” who were in the reserve are said to have fled immediately after the explosion. The police are trying to ascertain who they were.
“This is certainly not a public place to be accessed by anyone. We are trying to find out why so many outsiders were present at the reserve. It would not have been possible for so many civilians to be in the reserve without being noticed by any of the police personnel present there,” an official said.
Another senior official admitted that security might have been lax to the point of carelessness. “The outsiders surely came inside with the consent of police personnel. What needs to be investigated is whether the one who planted the bomb too sneaked in with the consent of any of our own people or simply took advantage of the porous boundary,” he said. It was raining when the blast occurred and most people were indoors. There were nearly 90 policemen in the reserve at the time of the incident.
Another cycle bomb wounded over 40 people in a crowded wholesale market at Hajo in Kamrup district on Wednesday. It occurred only a day after Delhi softened its stand and agreed to negotiate with an emissary of Ulfa. Talks with the outfit had collapsed in September last year.
Writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami, who has been trying to broker peace, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on Monday along with Susibrata Raichowdhry, a member of the Nagarik Shanti Mancha.