Investigators probing Sikh militants-Jehadi links in blast
Ludhiana (PTI): Investigators were on Monday probing whether the "high intensity" theatre blast that left six killed was a joint effort by sikh militants and jehadi groups and did not rule out the use of deadly RDX, as 12 persons were detained by police for questioning.
On the political front, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal dismissed suggestions that a bomb blast in Punjab after a gap of several years signalled the revival of militancy in the border state. "People of Punjab have no sympathy with terrorists as they would not allow the hard earned peace to go. There is no chances of revival of terrorism," he said.
The terror angle in the attack on the Shringar multiplex which was packed with migrant labourers was being pursued with DIG(Intelligence) Jagdish Mittal telling reporters the blast could be a result of a collaboration between the "jihadi groups and the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI)." No outfit has so far claimed responsibility.
Investigators were trying to find out the exact nature of explosives used in the blast as a team of National Security Guards(NSG) and forensic experts were busy sifting through the evidence at the cinema hall. Thirty persons were injured
Official sources said in Delhi the blast was of "high intensity" and that a preliminary examination of evidence gave enough indication that RDX was used. Police had seized 500 kgs of RDX in Punjab three weeks back.
Another angle being probed is that the blast may be an attempt to scare away migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who dominate the labour sector in Punjab.
Punjab's Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh however maintained it was too early to link the blast to any group. In Delhi, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta sought to put onus on state governments to prevent terror attacks saying police must step up vigil and that shopping malls and theatres must have an "inhouse mechanism".
Theatre personnel manning the entry and exit gates were also being questioned for possible clues amid reports that those who planted the bomb may have left after the interval since the blast occured a few minutes before the second part of the popular Bhojpuri film 'Janam Janam Ka Saath' could be screened.
The police are still clueless over how many persons were involved.
Punjab police chief N.P.S. Aulakh had told reporters in Ludhiana on Sunday that he did not rule out the possibility Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) being involved in the blast.
Former Punjab police chief K P S Gill, who is credited with wiping out militancy in the state, has pointed a finger at another Sikh group called the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), which is known to have links with Kashmir-based rebel groups.
The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab meanwhile hinted at the involvement of a neighbouring country in the terror attack
Without naming the country, SAD acting chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said "there is the possibility of involvement of a neighbouring nation in the bomb blast."
Talking to reporters after visiting the blast site and the injured at the hospitals, Chief Minister P S Badal announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 2 lakhs to the next of kin of those killed.
Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta said he would not like to pre-judge anything regardign the blast but said "people and owners of various shopping complexes and cinema halls should ensure an in-house mechanism to keep a constant vigil against those who wanted to perpetrate terrorism."
The police on its part always increases the vigil but certain laxities do occur which can be plugged by the security that could be in place from these owners, he said.
A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, said the blast was the handiwork of Harkat-ul-Jehadi-Islami, a Bangladesh-based militant outfit.
Preliminary probe pointed the needle of suspicion towards HUJI which might have triggered the blast in collaboration with Babbar Khalsa sympathisers, he said.
SSP (Ludhiana) R K Jaiswal said the report of forensic experts was still awaited, adding police believed the lethal RDX was used in the blast.
No sketch of the perpetrators of the crime had been released, Mittal said adding the investigators did not rule out the involvement of terror outfits from Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, over 30 people, wounded in the blast, were recuperating in various hospitals in the city and were stated to be out of danger.
Most of the blast victims, working as labourers in this industrial town, hailed from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Five of the six killed in the horrific blast were identified as Sonu Sharma, Imtiaz Ali, Vandhan, Shashan Shah and Hari Pal, an official spokesman said.
He said the Punjab government had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs to each bereaved family.
A breakthrough in the cinema blast case was expected in a day or two, ADGP (Law and Order) Chandershekhar told PTI in Chandigarh.
"It will take a day or two to get the breakthrough," he said adding "initial reports do not point to the use of RDX in the blast."
The type of burns received by the injured would help in reaching some conclusion about the nature of explosives used in the blast, he said.
Meanwhile, security at vital installations and public places in the state had been beefed up with the deployment of additional security force personnel.