|2006 Varanasi bombings|
|Date||7 March 2006 (UTC+5.5)|
|Target||Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station|
The 2006 Varanasi bombings were a series of bombings that occurred across the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in India on 7 March 2006. At least 28 people are reported to have been killed and as many as 101 others were injured.
The blasts occurred nearly simultaneously shortly after 6:00 p.m. Indian Standard Time (12:30 p.m. UTC). The first blast took place at 6:20 p.m at the crowded Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple near the Banaras Hindu University. Hundreds of pilgrims were in temple as it was a Tuesday, believed to be particularly holy by the devotees of Hanuman, a deity at the temple. The bomb was placed in a container near a gate at the temple where women usually sit.
One other blast followed at the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station — It occurred in the waiting area next to the travel office. Initially another blast was reported inside the stationary Shivganga Express bound for Delhi, however this was later discounted. (The Shivganga express departure was delayed by 2 hours, eventually arriving in Delhi 4 hours late but intact). Six bombs were reported defused from other areas in the city, including a restaurant frequented by foreigners, in the vicinity of the railway station.
It is conjectured that the date and time of the explosions was selected for causing maximum damage. The CBSE and ISC Examinations (India's school leaving examinations) were in progress and therefore there were many students and worshippers at the temple when the bombs exploded during the Aarti ceremony. Tuesday was also a holy day of the deity at the temple. It is further conjectured that the bomb at the railway station was orchestrated to coincide with the throng of passengers waiting for Shiv Ganga express.
|7 March 2006 Varanasi bombings Casualties|
|Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple blast||10||40||(Rediff)|
|Varanasi railway station blast||5||20||(Rediff)|
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit, whose member was shot dead in an encounter with police near Lucknow on Wednesday, were prima facie behind the blasts in Varanasi, a senior Uttar Pradesh government official said in Varanasi on Wednesday.
Uttar Pradesh, Chief Secretary, Mr. Sinha said bombs were made in Bihar. The material to make bombs was procured in Nepal which was then smuggled across the porous Indo-Nepal border.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the blasts and appealed for calm. A state of high alert was declared in India's major cities. Police were sent to all major places of worship in New Delhi. India's Cabinet Committee on Security met in emergency session. Varanasi shut down Wednesday to protest the blasts; shops and businesses closed, and authorities closed schools and colleges. It reopened on 9 March.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, claimed that UP Police killed one of the suspected Pakistani involved who turned out to be a resident of Madhya Pradesh, but he was part of Lashkar-e Toiba Islamic group and police were on the lookout for him in context of Delhi blasts of 2005.
The bombings in Varanasi have evoked strong condemnation from across the world.
A little known group calling itself the Lashkar-e Kahar/Qahab has claimed responsibility for the attacks.. A spokesperson for the group who identified himself as Abdullah Jabbar alias Abu Feroz called a local news agency in Srinagar on Thursday morning to claim responsibility for the blasts and threatened similar attacks in other cities unless the government stopped its "catch and kill" campaign in Jammu and Kashmir. A staff of the TV channel said that Feroz spoke in Urdu with a heavy Punjabi accent.. It is speculated that the bombings were carried out in retaliation of the arrest of a Lashkar-e-Toiba agent in Varanasi earlier in February 2006 . Some analysts see a connection between the bombings and Hindu-Muslim clashes in the city of Lucknow on 4 March 2006 that left four people dead. These clashes started due to protests against the President of the United States George W. Bush's India visit. It is also believed that these attacks were a part of a series which included an attack at the IISc, Bangalore and also at the Akshardham Temple, Gujarat.