CHILLING MESSAGE IN CHAIN BLASTS 

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By FROM BASANT RAWAT AND AGENCIES
  • Published 29.05.02
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Ahmedabad, May 29 :    Ahmedabad, May 29:  Four crude bombs exploded in buses today, injuring 12 people, as Ahmedabad was settling down to life without violence. But behind the innocuous numbers in a city that has seen a thousand deaths in two-and-a-half months of bloodshed lies a story that is causing jitters in the local administration with implications for New Delhi, too. All four bombs went off simultaneously, in buses and in rush hour, around 10 am. There were eight more - stick bombs with timer devices - that were defused after being recovered, two from under the seats of buses at Kalupur terminus and six from public places in the same area around the railway station. And all were in nondescript tiffin boxes. The explosions occurred in two buses in Vasna, one in Gokul and one on Geeta Mandir Road, all predominantly majority community areas. "It appears that the bombs... are crudely made bombs and intended to create panic," a police officer said. Such bombs had been used during the riots here. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts that shattered the 10-day-old peace in Ahmedabad. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the minority community blamed each other for the blasts. Police suspect the explosions were planned. "Prima facie there seems that there is some planning to it," K.K. Ojha, deputy commissioner of police, said. Police commissioner K.R. Kaushik blamed "mischievous elements" for the blasts that he said were aimed at derailing the return to normality. "Today's incidents were not communal in nature. They were aimed at spreading panic. That was the conspiracy," he said. Kaushik said it was too early to talk about "conjectures" like "whether the blasts were part of a retaliatory move or carried out with external support". In the context of the riots against the minority community, fears have been expressed by the BJP government here and even by Central ministers that Pakistani intelligence agency ISI could instigate attacks. Chief minister Narendra Modi's administration, not as restrained with words as the police chief, described the explosions as "acts of terrorism". The blasts were "part of an anti-national conspiracy which had its origin in the inflammatory address of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Monday", agriculture minister Purshottam Rupala and urban development minister I.K. Jadeja said after a Cabinet meeting. Musharraf had blamed "Hindu terrorists" for carrying out "atrocities" in Gujarat and Kashmir. The two ministers added that the blasts were a part of Pakistan's "war of terrorism". A task force is being set up with home and police department officials to investigate the blasts. Kaushik said Bangalore police had warned that public places could be attacked "even with the involvement of the underworld", a throwback to the Mumbai serial blasts. In the Gurukul area, which has till now been unaffected by the violence, at least three persons, including a woman, were injured in the blast. In the explosion near the Vasna bus depot, the driver and two women were hurt while six passengers were wounded on Geeta Mandir Road. Eyewitnesses at Gurukul were reluctant to talk about the incident. "Thank god, I have survived. I have nothing more to say," Dineshbhai Shah, who was on the bus, said. Shopkeepers in the area also held their silence. Some of them rushed to telephone booths to tell their family members and friends not to travel on buses or visit the affected areas. "Gujarat has created history in the last three months with its violence. The reaction to this history was always coming," Tanubhai Shah, a state government employee, said. "There could be more things like this." Given the tension with Pakistan and the fiery exchange of rhetoric, an incident like this could snap Delhi's "patience". Defence minister George Fernandes indicated today that another Kaluchak-like attack would provoke immediate action. "We don't have inexhaustible patience... If another Kaluchak takes place, there won't be any time. We have already reached more or less the end of the road," he said on a television programme.