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Spat over Varanasi blast, UP denies HM’s claim on intel provided
Published on 9 Dec. 2010 12:12 AM IST
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The central and Uttar Pradesh governments were locked in a spat Wednesday over the bombing here that killed a girl child while the police admitted they were clueless about the attackers.
The Hindu holy town was calm a day later but the normally popular ‘maha aarti’ saw only one earthern lamp lit and floated on the Ganga in protest against the terror attack and to pay homage to the dead girl.
In contrast to the hundreds who flock to the daily ‘maha aarti’, only up to 300 people came to the ghat Wednesday evening, and they too were mostly from local temples. The usual devotees stayed away.
“This is to protest the terrorist attack and the lack of security measures,” Kanayya Tripathi of the Ganga Seva Nidhi told IANS. “We also wished to pay homage to the dead girl.”
Flying in here from New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram visited the injured - including foreigners - and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of not acting on intelligence warnings about possible terror strikes. Uttar Pradesh’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government promptly denied the charge, and instead hit out at New Delhi for shifting the blame on a state administration.
“We had sent a letter to the Uttar Pradesh government in February ... hinting at the possibility of terrorist outfits targeting this particular ghat,” Chidambaram told reporters here.
He said since the warning had been conveyed to the state government in advance and that too about a possible strike at the Dasashwamedh Ghat, “we expected them to take appropriate security measures”. He said the attack was a result of “some security lapse on the part of the state administration”.
Hundreds of men and women were gathered to watch the colourful ‘maha aarti’ Tuesday evening when an explosive hidden in a crevice on the stairs leading the Ganga went off.
It killed two-year-old girl Swastika Sharma, who was with her family. Several people were injured, some of them seriously. The explosion sparked off a stampede. Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh denied Chidambaram’s claim.
“There was no specific actionable input from central intelligence agencies regarding the blast,” he said in Lucknow, speaking on behalf of Chief Minister Mayawati.
Even 24 hours later, the police appeared to be groping in the dark.
Additional Director General of Police Brij Lal said: “We have not found any circuit, battery, remote-control device, shrapnel or splinters. We are not able to ascertain the nature of the explosives used in the blast.
“Whatever remnants we have got are being examined by forensic experts.”
Asked if police had any evidence that the Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility, was involved, Lal said: “At present, we have not found the involvement of any organisation, module or individual that can be linked with the blast.”
Another senior officer, U.K. Bansal, told IANS: “It is too early to blame any particular organisation. Investigation is on.”
Tuesday’s terror attack came a day after the 18th anniversary of the Babri mosque razing in Ayodhya, also in Uttar Pradesh.
E-mails supposedly sent by the Indian Mujahideen were tracked to Mumbai.
“The e-mails have been sent after hacking an unsecured WiFi (wireless internet) connection of Vashi township in Navi Mumbai,” a police officer said.
Police earlier detained two men but released them after questioning.
The email said: “Indian Mujahideen attribute(s) this attack to 6th of December that will haunt your nation ... until Muslims are paid back justly and fairly for the loss of their beloved Babri Masjid, the lives of their near and dear ones, their pride, dignity and self-respect.”
It was the fourth terror attack since 2005 in Varanasi, one of the holiest sites for Hindus.

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