Tuesday, March 21st, 2023 19:06:15

Serial Blasts Fail To Deter Modi From Making Hunkar At Patna Rally

Updated: November 16, 2013 12:39 pm

Bharatiya Janata Party’s much publicised Hunkar Rally at Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan on October 27 literally created history when a series of blasts rocked it and the star speaker Narendra Modi matched the sound of explosions while the mammoth crowd refused to budge from the ground. The bombs went off one after another but such was Modi effect that the blasts failed to foment stampede, which, perhaps, was the obnoxious objective of bomb planters. Altogether six people died and over hundred got injured in the bloody incident, which later triggered political blasts one after another.

It was for the first time BJP in Bihar had organised such a huge rally after months of mega preparation and publicity, and it was also for the first time that a political rally was bombed with serial blasts and it was also for the first time that an assembled crowd of over two lakhs people displayed such an unmatched patience, courage and strength to hold glued to the place amidst all these chaos and cacophonous. The state BJP leaders too applied their common sense to the maximum and kept diverting attention of people while dubbing the blasts tyre bursts and minor Diwali firecrackers.

The BJP leaders, earlier, had pulled all stops together to make the rally mega successful as their Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was, for the first time, raring to storm bete noire Nitish Kumar’s bastion. It was an unprecedented preparation that no other political party has had ever made in Patna. Altogether 11 trains, over 3,000 buses and hundreds of thousands of private vehicles were booked to ferry people to the rally venue from different corners of the state. A huge LED screen behind the main stage along with other three dozen screens, installed at different locations inside the Maidan, imported from Delhi, steel frame stage and state-of-the-art music systems were the hallmark of the rally ground.

The whole Patna town was littered with banners, posters, hoardings and arch-gates displaying huge cut-outs of state BJP leaders, who seemed competing with each other to be noticed prominently by the man whose political stature, as many said, has become even larger than the party, Narendra Modi, popularly written as NaMo these days. NaMo tea-stalls, NaMo T-shirts, NaMo CDs, NaMo jalebi, road-shows, boat-shows, door-to-door meetings, meeting passengers at railway stations, puja, hawans, yajnas—everywhere there was NaMo chant the party was singing to make the rally historic. On the eve of the rally, Patna appeared painted saffron with BJP flags on all roads heading towards Gandhi Maidan.

It was a rally pregnant with many political possibilities for the BJP and the party had laboured hard to deliver the desired result. Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats and together with neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, it constitutes 120 seats determining the road to Parliament for any party. Since UP looks tough with SP, BSP and Congress as no mean adversaries, Bihar for BJP appears relatively easy to score. With Lalu Prasad in jail, Nitish Kumar down and Congress out the BJP desire to draw maximum from the state cashing in on palpable NaMo impact, if not wave. The resources and the manpower the BJP had put in organising the rally was also phenomenal and caused heartburns among the opposition parties like JD(U) and RJD.

All set and done, the Hunkar Rally was meant to blow BJP’s poll bugle in the state, though the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sought to downplay the rally hype saying: “Political parties keep organising such rallies to show their strength at election time.” But, Kumar’s body-language was telling something else as he appeared not in his usual charm and composure. Deep creases on his forehead lined with beads of sweats and his conspicuous irritation over mere mention of the rally said all what he did not want to tell. He tried to look other way avoiding the rally and made his programme for his party’s two-day Chintan Shivir held at Rajgir on October 28-29.

On the rally day, October 27, people from all directions started streaming in the city carrying BJP flags in their hand, wearing saffron bandana on heads and chanting NaMo-NaMo on their lips—all destined towards Patna’s Gandhi Maidan in groups and assembly. Normal life was thrown completely out of gear and policemen were seen guiding the crowd towards the rally venue. Heavy deployment of policemen on the road was the sole assurance as the city had got choked with crawling sea of humanity.

But at 9:30 in the morning, a blast took place inside washroom on platform no. 10 at Patna railway station. Passengers got panicked and saw a young man running away from the scene. A policeman present on the duty chased and caught him who later was identified as the sole catch to spill the bean for the investigating agencies. He was Imtiyaz Ansari, an Indian Mujahideen operative. However, when the policemen got inside the washroom they found another youngman stained in blood and writhing in pain. The bomb had accidentally blown off when he was placing battery into it. He was Ainul alias Tariq, Imtiyaz Ansari’s accomplice. Both are from the same Sitiyo locality of Dhurva police station in Ranchi. Ainul was admitted in hospital but Imtiyaz Ansari revealed the whole details of the plot. It was a terror attack with IM operatives in three groups of two men each, who had come to trigger blasts at the rally reportedly for stampede and maximum deaths.

Even before the ill-prepared and ill-equipped Patna police could make out something, the second blast took off two hours later at 11:40 am at the rally ground and that led to a series of blasts till 12:45 pm, all inside the ground. The state BJP leaders present on the dais by then had come to know that these were not normal blasts but they kept announcing that people should not panic as these are merely Diwali crackers and the tyre bursts. The bombs were of low intensity improvised explosive devices [IEDs] fitted with timer and wires but with low damage capacity. They went off in different directions of the rally ground so the people initially could not took it as the terrorist attack and they remained glued to their place. The injured persons were quickly frisked out to hospital and the situation at the ground came to normal after each blast.

Meanwhile, the man of the moment, Narendra Modi had arrived at the Patna airport and was briefed by intelligence officials about the serial blasts. They even advised him not to visit the place as the area might not have sanitised properly and the risk was imminent. Modi turned towards two of his party lieutenants—Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shahnawaj Hussain who had gone to receive him at the airport and, later, decided to go to the rally venue saying, “People have come to hear me.”

He reached the dais and roared in his usual best to address the mammoth crowd. In his about one-hour speech, he blasted off his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, saying him “opportunist, hypocrite and back-stabber” and he tore apart Congress Party for “stoking unemployment, poverty, price rise and fundamentalism in the country”. Taking a dig at Congress leaders for taking umbrage over calling their leader and vice president Rahul Gandhi, “Shahzada”, Modi said: “Until they keep going on with dynastic rule, I will also keep calling him Shahzada. If they feel bad hearing the word Shahzada for their leader, the country too feels bad about the dynastic politics of the Congress.” He, however, went on incarcerated RJD boss Lalu Prasad invoking his caste men as Yaduvanshis from the land of Dwarika in Gujarat. “We’ve special relations with Yaduvanshis of this state and I’ve god blessings from Lord Krishna to take care of you”, he declared in an apparent bid to woo 12 per cent of the Yadav caste support in the 2014 electoral battle. He also reminded the Yadav caste men that he had telephoned their leader Lalu Prasad when he got an accident three months ago. However, Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi, now party in-charge in Lalu’s absence, refused to take Modi’s words saying : “Ab yaad aaya hai Laluji aur Yaduvanshiyon ka? He also called RJD regime jungle raj.”

The rally was over by 3 pm and Modi after requesting the crowd to reach safe to their destinations flew back to Gujarat. But, here back in Bihar, the BJP leader charged Nitish Kumar with not making and adhering to security measures for the rally. The senior state BJP leader Shushil Kumar Modi alleged Nitish government for gross security negligence which was done “deliberately” so that Narendra Modi would be targeted. “He has been acting not like political opponent but as political enemy to Narendra Modi”, he charged and raised many questions highlighting the security lapses maintained by the state administration. In Delhi, party leader Arun Jaitley too charged the same. Former union home secretary Raj Kumar Singh also went on to say that the Bihar police chief Abhayanand should be dismissed for all security flaws. Former Bihar Director General of Police D P Ojha too raised his fingers towards lapse in security measures.

But, both the Bihar Chief Minister and the state police chief, Abhayanand kept saying all security measures were taken for the rally and visit of party leader Narendra Modi. “Since there was no specific input about any terrorist attack or blast, we did all that should have been done,” said Abhayanand, who uses one name. However, the very next moment, the state unit of the IB released a letter sent to the state administration four days ago alerting them for such an attack at the rally. The Bihar police chief took refuse saying it was not “specific”, while Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took shelter at his party’s two-day conclave in Rajgir.

Meanwhile, the investigating teams of NIA and NSG descended at Patna and started probe making out that the mastermind of the serial blast was none else than Tehsin Akhtar of Samastipur district of Bihar. Tehsin carries reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head and is wanted in Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Varanasi and Bodh Gaya blasts. After Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest, he was made in-charge of “Darbhanga module” of the IM outfit. Police made raids at arrested bomber Imtiyaz Ansari at his Ranchi residence and found incriminating documents and substances, including a biography of Osama bin Laden and stack of rupees five lakh, which each of the six bombers were reportedly paid in advance for the Patna rally task.

The investigation is on but the remaining four bombers are still at large along with their ringmaster Tehsin Akhtar, perhaps planning their next target at some other place. The state politics too is on making charges and counter-charges over the blasts to reap electoral harvest over them. The BJP, meanwhile, has declared to move with the urn of ash of all those six killed people, martyr for them, in all the 38 districts of the state. They have also announced to pay rupees five lakh each to the families as the state government too had announced earlier. “They were the martyrs for us and we’ll take their asthi kalash in all 38 districts before immersing them into Ganga on November 5”, said state BJP president Mangal Pandey. Bomb and politics go hand in hand in the Gangetic land of Bihar. In the days to come blasts are bound to happen!

By Devayani Tewary from Patna

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