Jammu: Congress's Bharat Jodo yatra has resumed from Hiranagar in the Kathua district of Jammu & Kashmir. Just two days before Congress leader Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra is scheduled to reach Jammu, two back-to-back explosions rocked a busy locality on the outskirts of the city on Saturday, leaving nine people injured, officials said.
Police suspect that IEDs were used to carry out the twin explosions in an SUV parked in a repair shop and in a vehicle at a nearby junkyard at Transport Nagar area of Narwal.
Security agencies in the north are on high alert
The terror attack comes at a time when security agencies in the region are on high alert in the wake of the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress and the upcoming Republic Day celebrations.
On Friday night, a police official said, one of their personnel was injured in a blast underneath a dumper at Bajalta on the Narwal-Sidhra bypass.
The cause of the explosion, which took place around 11.30 pm on Friday, is being investigated, he said, adding that the dumper had been stopped by a police party for checking at Bajalta.
Lt Governor Sinha condemned the twin blast
On Saturday, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha strongly condemned the twin blasts at Narwal and directed agencies to take urgent steps to nab the culprits.
"A blast occurred in an old, parked Bolero (Sports Utility Vehicle) around 11 am resulting in injuries to five people who were standing nearby. They were evacuated to hospital and their condition is stable," Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Singh told reporters near the scene of the explosion.
He said the whole area was immediately cleared of people but in the meantime, another blast occurred 50 metres away, causing minor injuries to one more person who was also shifted to hospital.
"Further investigation is on," the officer said.
However, a total of nine people were brought with splinter injuries to the Government Medical College hospital following the blasts.
"We have received nine patients with one having abdominal injuries and two others fractured legs. The condition of all of them is stable," a doctor at the hospital said.
Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Kathua
The Bharat Jodo Yatra entered J-K's Kathua district on Thursday evening via Punjab and is camping in Chadwal, about 70 km from here. After a day's break on Saturday, the yatra, which commenced from Kanyakumari on September 7, is scheduled to resume from Hiranagar on Sunday and reach Jammu on January 23.
An official identified the injured as Suhail Iqbal, Vishav Partap, Vinod Kumar, Arjun Kumar, Amit Kumar, Rajesh Kumar and Aneesh - all residents of Jammu - and Sushil Kumar of Doda.
Earlier this month, two cousins - aged four and 16 - were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in Dangri village in Jammu's Rajouri area, 14 hours after terrorists had shot dead four people there.
The terrorists, locals had claimed, had planted the IED on the day of the shooting and it was missed during scanning by police and security officials, who had cordoned off the area. Another firing victim succumbed four days later, taking the death toll in the incident to seven.
The officials on Saturday said the whole area was cordoned off by joint teams of police and CRPF immediately after the first explosion which was followed by another blast 15 minutes later. Special teams of the State Investigation Agency and the Army also inspected the scene of the twin blasts.
Thourough sanitisation operation carried out
A thorough sanitisation operation was carried out and forensic experts, bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs were also pressed into service to look for clues, they said.
Where did the blast take place?
Jaswinder Singh, an eyewitness, said the first blast occurred in a vehicle that was at a workshop.
About 15 minutes later, another explosion took place in the area littered with damaged parts and garbage, said Singh, president of the Motor Spare Parts Association.
Raj Kumar said he was working on a vehicle when the blast ripped apart another parked vehicle.
"We initially thought that the petrol tank of some vehicle exploded but the blast was so powerful that it blew up the vehicle," he said.
An official spokesman said senior police officials have briefed the Lt Governor.
"Such dastardly acts highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible. Take immediate and firm action. No efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice," the Lt Governor said.
Sinha also announced assistance of Rs 50,000 to the injured. The Lt Governor said the administration would ensure the best possible treatment and extend every help required by the families.
Congress condemned the blast
Congress MP and AICC in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Rajani Patil strongly condemned the twin blasts. The CPI and AAP alleged that the incident reflected the "failure" of the BJP's policy in the Union Territory.
"Jammu blasts reveal once again the failure of BJP's J-K Policy. Abrogation of Art.370 and demonetisation adventures misfired. Terrorism is on the increase," CPI MP Binoy Viswam said on Twitter.
The BJP's policy of "communal hatred has badly affected the country's unity," he alleged.
"The day the BJP government took over, the situation in J-K is getting from bad to worse. Terrorism is increasing with each passing day and is returning to 1990s," chairman of Jammu and Kashmir AAP state coordination committee Harsh Dev Singh alleged.
"They were stating that not a bird was killed after the abrogation of Article 370 but the reality is that innocent men, women and children are getting killed. The BJP has to give answers not only to J-K but to the entire nation," he told reporters.
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Ramesh Kumar and Deputy Commissioner Avny Lavasa visited the injured at the hospital, besides J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina.
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