Chandigarh: Three persons were killed and 20 injured in a grenade attack by two mobike-borne assailants on a religious congregation on the outskirts of Punjab’s Amritsar city on Sunday, an incident which the police are treating as a “terrorist act”.
The incident took place inside the Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi when about 200 devotees, including many women, were present, police said.
Director general of police Suresh Arora said that the incident appeared to be a “terrorist act”. He said an NIA team will visit the site on Monday.
“It (this incident) appears to be a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people so we will take it as a terrorist act, till proven otherwise,” said Arora. Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh said that the possibility of involvement of ISI-based Khalistani or Kashmiri terror groups could not be ruled out.
Hours after the blast, the Punjab police arrested two suspects from Bathinda and recovered live cartridges from them, reports said.
Officials in the Union home ministry said that the security agencies have “enough leads” in the investigations.
Announcing a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each of the dead, the Chief Minister said preliminary investigations had revealed that two men, one of them with a flowing beard, with covered faces, allegedly forced their way into the hall by brandishing a pistol.
“They detained the sewadar, lobbed the grenade into the prayer room, and fled on a motorcycle,” he said.
A small crater formed by the impact of the explosion was examined by a forensic team.
The safety valve of the grenade has also been found, the Chief Minister said.
Amarinder Singh said that the state won’t let the “forces of terror” destroy the hard earned peace, a reference to the dark days of militancy in the 1980s and early 1990s. The state has also faced few terror attacks in recent years, including the one in Pathankot over two years ago.
Inspector general S.P.S. Parmar said no CCTV was installed at the premises.
Notably, Punjab Police was on a high alert after receiving inputs that Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists might be hiding in the state. Later, it came to light that the Jammu and Kashmir-based terrorist outfit Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind commander Zakir Musa too could be hiding in Punjab. On Friday, Punjab police in Gurdaspur had pasted posters of Musa.
The state had been put on alert after four persons snatched an SUV from its driver at gunpoint near Madhopur in Pathankot district last week.
Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat had recently warned that attempts were being made to “revive insurgency” in Punjab and had even cautioned that people needed to be careful especially during the festival season to prevent anti-national forces from succeeding in their nefarious designs.
Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka, who visited the blast scene, said it was a security and intelligence lapse and blamed both Central and state governments for the incident....