MANGALURU: Terming the blast in Mangaluru on Saturday evening as an ‘act of terror,’ the top police brass of the state along with Central agencies have initiated a detailed probe into the incident.
The driver of a rickshaw and passenger had sustained burn injuries when an autorickshaw caught fire near Nagori in Mangaluru on Saturday evening.
"Prima Facie, the blast in Mangaluru looks like an act of terror. The government will crack this case," Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters in Ballari.
"There was an explosion inside a pressure cooker in an auto rickshaw in Mangaluru on Saturday injuring the autorickshaw driver and a passenger. Both are being treated in a hospital. The police have taken up this case seriously and started an investigation," the CM said.
"It looks like LED-like equipment has been used in this incident. Upon checking the records of the passenger, it revealed that the Aadhar card was fake. Prima facie, this incident looks like an act of terror. The injured passenger is recuperating in hospital and more information will be procured from him," he added.
The CM said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and other agencies have visited the spot and have taken up an investigation.
"The preliminary probe from the police states that the passenger had visited several places including Coimbatore and he might have links with the terror group," he said.
The Chief Minister said that the probe will also reveal if there is any link between banned PFI and this incident.
While initially the reason for the fire was not known, the remains of the blast which included a pressure cooker, batteries, and explosives made the police grow suspicious.
The police who got an Aadhar Card from the passenger in the rickshaw tried to contact him only to find that the Aadhar Card was a fake one.
The card was in the name of Prem Raj of Hubballi. "Premraj is a victim of identity theft. It is confirmed. He has nothing to do with this incident," Karnataka DG-IGP Praveen Sood confirmed.
While the police have booked a case based on the complaint of the driver, they are yet to declare the identity of the passenger.
The rickshaw driver had told the police that the fire was spotted inside the passenger’s bag. The police officials are unable to collect any statement from the passenger as he has sustained a 40 percent burn injury. It is also not clear where he wanted to go.
According to sources, the passenger was residing in a rented house in Mysuru. On Saturday he had come from Mysuru in a bus and got down at Padil from where he took a rickshaw.
It is suspected that he wanted to carry the explosive to some place but it exploded on the way.
Meanwhile, a shop owner who was the first to rush to help the rickshaw driver and passenger said that he had called the police after he grew suspicious about the materials found on the spot.
"We heard a loud sound like that of a cracker burst and then noticed the fire in the rickshaw near our shop. The driver and the passenger were injured. We immediately shifted them to the hospital with the help of a rickshaw. Later I saw a pressure cooker, batteries, bolt nut, powder, and wire in the place where there was fire and immediately informed the police," the shop owner told reporters.
Earlier in the day Karnataka DG-IGP Praveen Sood tweeted declaring this incident an act of terror.
"It’s confirmed now. The blast is not accidental but an ACT OF TERROR with intention to cause serious damage. Karnataka State Police is probing deep into it along with Central agencies," Sood stated in a tweet.