All roads led to Jama Masjid on Friday, April 14, 2006 as two low intensity crude bombs exploded inside the historic mosque built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan on the ruins of the ancient Jamna Devi temple in the capital'sWalled City area.
The blasts occurred within 15 minutes of each other near a pond used by the devout for ablutions. A total of 13 people were injured in the twin blasts and they were rushed to the nearby Lok Nayak Hospital for treatment.
The blasts were equivocally condemned by one and all including the Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani and Vishwa Hindu Parishad General Secretary Praveen Togadia.
But the sight that followed the blasts was more pathetic. More than the melee inside the mosque when the explosion took place was the rush outside by politicians of all hues and shades including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Shivraj Patil who made a beeline to the 18th century monument and the hospital in a blatant and unashamed attempt to win back the minority community'sfavours.
Then came the crucial investigations. To begin with, the Shahi Imam, whom all the political parties go out of way to court and whose writ Muslims themselves admit does not go beyond the four walls of the Masjid, reportedly had reservations against allowing the sniffer dogs and police personnel with shoes inside the premises.
The Imam, more known for his political ambitions than religiosity, was apparently less concerned about sanctity and more about secrecy.
A terrorist angle was sought to be given to the explosions and comparisons were sought to be made with the high-intensity Varanasi blasts which killed several people. A case was also registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. But what could the poor police personnel do? Forget RDX, the locally and easily available potassium chloride and sulphuric acid were found to have been used to trigger the blasts.
With the terror angle falling flat on the face, suggestions were made that it could be the handiwork of the notorious Abdul Karim Tunda gang. Explosives experts outrightly rejected the theory of Delhi Police'sSpecial Cell that a battery could have been used to charge the chemicals to trigger the blasts.
After analyzing all the materials collected from the site, the experts were of the opinion that it was a low intensity chemical explosion and the battery, if found actually from the blast site and not planted there as widely suspected, could only have been kept to divert the focus of the probe as no timer or wire were recovered from the site.
The police, which had initially fanned its special teams across northern India in search of the perpetrators of the crime whom the Prime Minister had vowed to punish, soon started singing a different tune. It could be the handiwork of some local mischief mongers, they said.
?The motive of the blasts was not to kill people but to create fear in their minds?, was another new theory floated by the police.
But since no non-Muslim can enter the area, were the blasts the outcome of the Shia-Sunni rivalry like their cousin across the border? A senior police officer admitted that the police were also investigating the angle that the blasts might be the result of factionalism between groups aiming to control the influential shrine.
The Shahi Imam was involved in a bitter court battle over the mosque with the Waqf Board, he said.
Some suspect that the blasts which did not claim a single life were also aimed at diverting the growing public opinion against Islamic terrorism. With the BJP taking out twin ?Bharat Suraksha Yatras? to expose minority appeasement and its resultant upsurge in violence, both Muslim community leaders and the Government were keen to project the Muslims too as equal victims of the menace, observers said.
Having been relegated to the fringes, the Shahi Imam too was keen to make a comeback, with a bang. He wasted no time after the blasts to meet the Prime Minister and submit a memorandum demanding among other things reservation for Muslims in jobs and educational institutions and an economic package for the community.
Unfortunately for him, the assault on journalists by his goons hogged the limelight than his memorandum.
Enamoured by the television cameras immediately after the blasts, the Imam had unwittingly demanded a CBI probe. An ever obliging Government should waste no time in fulfilling his wish. The blasts should be thoroughly probed and the culprits should be brought to book, even if they happen to be elements seeking to make political capital under the cover of terrorism, the enemy number one of mankind.