Five children killed in blast in Allahabad

Allahabad: Five children were killed and six others seriously injured in a crude bomb explosion that ripped through a congested slum in the city today. Union Home Ministry sources have ruled out a terror angle. However, Anti-Terrorism Squad team and forensic experts have been sent to Allahabad to probe the incident.

The blast occurred at around 4 PM near a scrap dump in the slum inhabited mainly by ragpickers located barely a few hundred metres from Kareli police station. "As many as five children have so far died as a result of the injuries received in the blast," Superintendent of Police (Crime), Allahabad, Arun Kumar Pande told PTI.

Six persons — three children and as many women– have sustained serious injuries and they have been admitted to various hospitals in the city where their condition continues to be critical, Pande said. The SP said that the blast was "prima facie the result of rag-pickers fiddling with a crude bomb, not necessarily a very powerful one, that might have been left abandoned in a garbage heap".

He, however, dismissed the claim made by some locals that the bomb was hurled towards the area by an unidentified person, saying it was "a remote possibility. A team of forensic experts is coming from Agra and investigations will ascertain the material used to make the explosive device as well as whether it was lobbed by any miscreant or was already lying there and went off after being unwittingly picked up by an unsuspecting child."

Asked whether the state government had received an alert from the Centre on a possible terror strike B P Singh, IG (Law and Order), said in Lucknow that there were no specific alerts. "Routine alerts do come from IB but there was no specific alert," he said. Singh said that old Allahabad "is notorious for crude bombs and it had taken shape of `kutir udyog` (cottage industry) there" and police have been conducting raids at such places and arresting people.

Residents of the slum had claimed that the blast could be a handiwork of a construction company which is allegedly interested in acquiring the land now occupied by squatters. Home Ministry sources also said "it could be an attempt by the land mafia to clear the slum."

Significantly, a major portion of the slum comprises shanties in which migrant workers live without any authorisation from local authorities. Situated close to the river Yamuna and surrounded by Muslim-dominated Kareli township, the slum has a reputation of being a veritable manufacturing centre of crude bombs and country-made weapons, according to sources in police department and the district administration.