Foreign Policy Blogs

Terror strikes Indian holy town of Varanasi

In yet another tragic attack carried out by terror outfits in the temple town of Varanasi in India, one child was killed and at least 32 others injured. It has been reported that the terror blast was carried out by Indian Mujahideen. The blast occurred outside the temple at Shitla Ghat in Varanasi town in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday evening. Eyewitness informed the media that the blast took place when thousands of devotees had assembled at the ghat for the Ganga Aarti.

The blast took place around 6:35 PM just five minutes after the Ganga Aarti. Media reports, quoted Union Home Secretary GK Pillai as confirming that the blast was a terror strike carried out by Indian Mujhaideen. Indian Mujahideen is a Pakistan based Islamic terrorist group in India that has claimed responsibility for several attacks against innocent targets in India recently. The India Mujahideen is believed to be a “shadow amalgam of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba”.

It was confirmed that a two-year-old girl, succumbed to her injuries. Thirty-two people including five or six foreign tourists are also known to have been injured in the blast. Media reports quoted government officials as saying that seven to eight people were injured in the blast but the numbers increased because a railing at the ghat broke leading to a small stampede. About 15 people were injured in the stampede.

Police also recovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) from a dustbin near the blast site. Senior police officials were unable to confirm the nature of the blast and said that only a thorough investigation would reveal the exact nature of the terror strike. Immediately following the blast, the Indian Mujahideen accused of having carried out the attack, sent out an e-mail to media houses claiming that the blast in Varanasi was carried out in retaliation to the verdict in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janambhoomi title suit case. Also known as the Ayodhya dispute, it revolves around the claim over the land in Ayodhya, which is considered scared by Hindus as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram while Muslims seek to defend the Babri Masjid at the site. The Babri Masjid which was a 16th century mosque in Ayodhya was pulled down by Hindu Karsevaks on December 6, 1992 in an attempt to reclaim the land known as Ram Janmabhoomi.

In fact, India has been on alert a day after the anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition. Following the blast, a high alert has been sounded in other metros of India including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Unconfirmed, media reports suggest that the e-mail sent by the Indian Mujahideen taking responsibility for the blast was in fact prepared on December 6 and sent from Malad which is a suburb of Mumbai. The five-page e-mail was signed by ‘Al-Arbi’

Following the blast, the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh expressed concern over the attack and appealed to all to maintain calm and peace. “The blast is an attempt to weaken our resolve by evil forces of terrorism in which terrorists will not succeed,” he said.