UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Mar 07

07 March 2006

Varanasi bombings


What happened?

On 7 March 2006, a series of bombs went off in the holy city of Varanasi killing at least twenty-eight people and injuring more than a hundred.

Background

  • The bomb blasts took place a little after six in the evening. The first blast went off at the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple near the famous Kashi Vishwanatha Temple. It was a Tuesday and the Hanuman temple was teeming with devotees as Tuesdays normally are. The explosive was kept in a container near one of the gates of the temple.
  • About ten people were killed at the temple.
  • The second blast occurred at the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station killing 11 people and injuring more.
  • Many other bombs were found and diffused by police all over the city. Three live bombs were retrieved from the temple complex, one live bomb from a restaurant, from Godolia and from Dashaswamedh ghat.
  • The time and the day chosen for the blasts prove that the perpetrators’ intent was maximum carnage. Hanuman temples are especially crowded on Tuesdays. Moreover, the board exams were going on and this meant that many students would visit the temple.
  • In the railway station, the timing was meant to coincide with the rush of passengers waiting to board the Shiv Ganga express.
  • Police concluded after the investigation that the bombs were made in Bihar and the raw materials used were smuggled in from Nepal. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, the same group that carried out the Mumbai terror attacks two year later, was said to be the attack’s mastermind.
  • One of the group’s members was shot and killed by the police the next day in Varanasi.
  • Soon after, Varanasi and other major cities were put on high alert.
  • The following day, i.e., Wednesday saw all educational institutes and markets shut down in the city.
  • Fortunately, no communal riots were seen in the blasts’ aftermath which would no doubt have been the terrorists’ intentions.
  • Top leaders condemned the dastardly attack and requested everybody to stay calm.
  • Soon after, a person calling himself Abdullah Jabbar a.k.a Abu Feroz, called up a local news agency in Srinagar and claimed responsibility for the bombing. He said he belonged to Lashkar-e Kahar/Qahab, a virtually unknown group. He spoke Urdu but with a strong Punjabi accent.
  • It is speculated that the bombings were a part of a series that included the attack at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and at the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat.
  • The horror of the bomb blasts was repeated four years later when a blast occurred at the Sheetla Ghat in December 2010. This blast claimed 2 lives and injured about 40, and was owned by the Indian Mujahideen.
Also on this day

1911: Birth of pioneering Hindi poet and journalist, Sachchidananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’. 1961: Death of freedom fighter and the first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Govind Ballabh Pant. 1997: The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) was formed.

 

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.