A chance encounter with a packet lying idle on the road cost an artiste his hands.
“I regret picking up the packet near the district magistrate’s bungalow,” said 45-year-old Tilo Mandal, one of the victims of Sunday’s blast. He now regrets touching an unidentified object on the road for which he had to lose his hands.
A powerful crude bomb had exploded inside an autorickshaw near Tilkamanjhi Chowk. The bomb was packed inside the carton of a liquor bottle near the official residence of district magistrate Prem Singh Meena.
Senior policemen on Monday claimed to have nabbed the culprits. But the fact that a bomb was left in front of the district magistrate’s bungalow has baffled the police.
According to Mohammad Faggouddin, the additional superintendent of police, Bhagalpur, a 14-member Kirtan Mandali (those who perform prayers at social functions) from Naugachia sub-division were headed to Tilkamanjhi Chowk after attending a funeral ceremony at the house of one Ashok Yadav at Barari around 8pm on Sunday.
“The performers had to attend another funeral ceremony at the house of one Tejnarayan Yadav at Tilkamanjhi. The bomb exploded inside the running autorickshaw when the performers reached the Chowk. We are probing the incident,” Faggouddin said.
Among those who suffered serious injuries were Tilo, Feko Mandal (45), Guddu Kumar (12), Bhopal Mandal (50) and Raghunandan Paswan (38).
According to Naugachia resident Tilo, they had consumed liquor so that they could “perform well” at the funerals.
“When the autorickshaw was on its way to Tilkamanjhi Chowk, some of us asked the driver to stop the vehicle so that we could relieve. The driver (Suman Mandal, also a Mandali performer) parked the vehicle near the district magistrate’s residence. While returning to the autorickshaw, I noticed a packet in a bag lying on the road. I anticipated it was a liquor bottle. I carried it inside the autorickshaw and tried to open the packet. I don’t remember anything after that,” said Tilo, lying on the bed of JLNMC Hospital.
Out of the 14 passengers, five suffered serious injuries. The explosion was so strong that it threw Tilo outside the vehicle. “The vehicle was badly damaged,” said a policeman posted at the nearby station. He was the first one to arrive at the spot after the incident occurred.
The additional superintendent of police said: “We have requested a forensic team to conduct a detailed investigation into the incident. It is yet to arrive.” When asked about a bomb planted just metres away from the district magistrate’s residence and in the nearby Barari locality a few days back, the senior officer remained tight-lipped.
Sanjay Singh, the deputy inspector-general, Bhagalpur, expressed concern over the recent blasts. He has instructed thorough probe into all the incidents.