Ahmedabad picks up the pieces, bit by bit (National Roundup)

July 28th, 2008 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Ahmedabad/Thirvananthapuram/Chennai, July 28 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi came to soothe tensions and meet the injured but Ahmedabad was still nursing its wounds Monday, two days after 50 people were killed in a series of 21 carefully choreographed bombings. As the 200 injured recovered painfully in hospitals across this Gujarat city and the families of the dead mourned for their loved ones, the prime minister sought to make an important point when he came here for a whirlwind visit lasting just about two hours.

Accompanied by Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Manmohan Singh visited the Civil Hospital, where a majority of the injured were being treated and where several people were killed when a bomb exploded Saturday evening. Later they also stopped at two other hospitals to meet some of those who survived the terror strike.

He vowed to defeat forces who were aiming to destroy India’s social fabric and praised the people of Gujarat for their resilience as he announced more relief from the central government — the kin of those killed will get Rs.350,000 instead of the Rs.100,000 announced Saturday night and those injured will get Rs.50,000.

“I have come to express our solidarity with the people of Gujarat in their hour of crisis. I commend the people of Gujarat for the resilience they have shown,” he said.

“These terrorist acts are aimed at destroying our social fabric, undermining communal harmony and demoralizing our people. As the people of Gujarat have shown so admirably, these efforts will not succeed.”

With Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by his side, Manmohan Singh said all political parties, the central and state governments, the central and state police and intelligence authorities and civil society groups should cooperate and work together to this end.

Notwithstanding their efforts, the tension was palpable.

Flights to the city from New Delhi, for instance, were running virtually empty with people clearly unwilling to come here. Shops downed their shutters and malls were closed; schools and colleges also shut down early.

“The city is yet to bounce back to normalcy,” Vinod, a resident of the old city of Ahmedabad, told IANS.

As Ahmedabad picked up the pieces and tried to carry on, the ripple effect was felt everywhere.

A number of bomb scares were reported from various parts of the country, including Uttar Pradesh and Kerala where police were kept on their toes trying to scotch rumours and keep peace.

In Kerala, for instance, security personnel searched a school, the All India Radio station at Alappuzha, and a State Bank of Travancore branch on the outskirts of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. A passenger train also had to be detained.

The tension was evident in West Bengal and in Bihar too where security was intensified.

As the consecutive blasts - in Bangalore on Friday and in Ahmedabad on Saturday - kept the country on edge, investigating agencies tried to get close to the conspiracy.

In Tamil Nadu, four suspects were arrested Monday - and one on Sunday. Sheikh Abdul Ghaffoor was arrested Sunday in Tirunelveli and named two others.

According to officials, on initial interrogation Ghafoor revealed that he was an operative of a terrorist ring that calls itself “believers in one god”, whose kingpin is said to be Pakistan-trained P. Ali Abdullah, arrested in 2003 and lodged in high security Puzhal prison, 20 km from the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

Police officials said the ring had worked out the logistics of the back-to-back bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

In Ahmedabad, Abdul Halim, a suspected member of the outlawed Students Islamic Movment of India (SIMI) arrested Sunday, was remanded to 14 days’ police custody.

As the sleuths went about their work, the injured struggled for life.

Like six-year-old Muhammad Idris who is in a coma. His mother Sukrabanu is also in hospital but out of danger.

Just two of the 250 whose lives have been torn apart.

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