In one of the worst terrorist attacks, nine powerful bomb blasts rocked the Pink City, killing at least 64 people and injuring another 150 on Tuesday May 13. Among the killed were about a dozen women. The death toll is likely to go up as the condition of some of the injured is stated to be serious.
The serial bomb blasts took place in the crowded walled city around 7.20 pm, the peak shopping time in this business district of the state capital. It appeared that Hawa Mahal, the landmark of Jaipur, and the temples in this 300-year-old city, were the main targets of the terrorists, who are yet to be identified.
Being Tuesday, the turnout in these temples was larger than usual. Moreover, it was aarti time in these temples when the blasts occurred.
The first bomb exploded near Chandpole temple. Within 15 minutes, eight blasts one after the other rocked Chhoti Chaupar, Tripolia Bazaar, Badi Chaupar and Jauhari Bazaar. All these places are within a few hundred yards from the state police headquarters. In fact, two blasts took place close to Manak Chowk (Badi Chaupar) and Chhoti Chaupar police stations.
Manak Chowk is located close to the Hawa Mahal. An old temple is also located here. The last of these serial blasts took place near Hanuman temple at Sanganer Gate, which is the entrance to the Jauhari Bazaar.
Though police suspect the hand of Bangladesh-based HuJI behind the attack, it is yet to find any link between the blasts and this outfit. Since nearby Ramganj area in the walled city is dominated by Muslims, a large number of police contingents have been deployed there to avoid any untoward incident.
Meanwhile, state unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has given the call for Rajasthan bandh against this terrorist attack.
Governor S.K. Singh and Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria visited the areas soon after the explosions. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was away in Jodhpur, reached here late in the night after cutting short her visit. She also spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and gave details of the incident.
It is for the first time that Jaipur has been targeted by the terrorists. Scores of wounded people were taken to several hospitals soon after the blasts near Hanuman temple.
Soon after the serial blasts, Union Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal said that central intelligence agencies two months back had alerted the state government about a possible terrorist strike by some unknown outfits in Rajasthan. He took no time to blame the state government for not taking necessary precautions to prevent the terrorist attack.
But Mr. Jaiswal did not reveal that it was just a routine circular, which his ministry sent to every state every month without any specific reference to the outfits and their choice of time and place to strike. Instead of passing the buck to the state government, Mr. Jaiswal should have promised to provide every possible help to investigate the serial blasts and to punish those, who were behind them.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was not wrong , when she said that instead of helping the state in such a situation, the centre is doing only lip service. She is not happy the way central intelligence agencies handled the bomb blast incident at Dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, about six months ago. Despite assuring to the state government that it would soon nab the operatives of the outfit, who triggered the bomb, killing two persons, it is still groping in the dark and has no clue about the outfits, who carried out the blast.
Since all the four Hanuman temples in Jauhari Bazaar, Manak Chowk, Tripolia and Chand Pole are situated on the roads, putting up metal detectors and such other device to monitor the explosive, is next to impossible. And it appeared that it could be the precise reason for HuJI to carry out the blast at these places.
Of late Rajasthan is becoming the most favoured destination for illegal Bangladeshis. Though there are not exact reliable data about these illegal migrants with any agency, according to extensive survey carried by some NGOs, their number run into lakhs. Jaipur, Ajmer, Kota and Bhilwara are these places, where they prefer to live as getting petty jobs in these places is not very difficult. The police says the number of such illegal Bangladeshis in Jaipur are little over 500,00 Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria maintained their number is not less than 50000.
He believes that these illegal migrants have fully exploited the weakness and lacunas in the system and have managed to get enrolled themselves in the electoral rolls, got ration cards and driving licenses to prove that they were Indian.
These illegal Bangladeshis have their own ghettos in the state capital, which are providing easy shelter to the HuJI operatives, the police believe. Soon after the blasts, the police was looking for a young man, who had purchased about dozen bicycles from Kishan Pole market. These cycles were used for strapping the bombs, made of RDX and Ammonium Nitrate, a deadly explosive mixture, which causes maximum damage.
The young man was speaking Hindi with heavy Bangla accent, which led the police to believe that he and his gang members are of Bangladeshi origin and might have used the Bangladeshi ghettos as a safe hideout, before carrying out the blast. Police extensively searched their localities and picked up about a dozen of them to interrogate them. Though all nine blasts were carried out at six places, police have the definite information that terrorists had the plan to explode more bombs on the same night. It detected a live bomb, which was later diffused with a timer, strapped on the cycle. Its clock showed that it was to be exploded at 9 PM.
They are also sure that at least a dozen operatives were in the town, who took the cycles with bombs and parked in the stands in the crowded areas of the walled city. They might have carried out a dry run, before actual operation. They carefully selected the place and timings. Walled city, the business district of the state capital, is a major shopping centre for local as well as for visitors. During evening time, the peak business time, even walking for pedestrian is very difficult in these markets.