NEW DELHI, May 14: The fatal bomb blasts in Jaipur and India’s protest to Pakistan over recent incidents of cross-border firing have become key issues for Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s scheduled visit to Islamabad next week, news report said on Wednesday.
Mr Mukherjee was himself facing “alarming” threats to his life according to intelligence briefs revealed after Tuesday’s blasts in Jaipur killed 63 people who included many shoppers and Hindu worshippers.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi strongly condemned the Jaipur blasts.
In a statement, he said Pakistan condemned all terror acts perpetrated in any part of the world and reaffirmed its commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism. He expressed sympathy and condolence with the families of the victims.
Zeenews said that following “unprovoked firing by Pakistan” along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Tangdar area of Kupawara district early on Wednesday, India officially lodged protest in a flag meeting between their border officials.
It said around 60 rounds were fired from across the LoC in an incident, which is seen as “a confrontational gesture” by the security establishment in New Delhi. Moreover, the incident is seen as the gross violation of international ceasefire agreement between the two countries, Zeenews said.
It quoted sources close to Pakistan’s Defence Ministry as denying any involvement in the firing incident. They further added that border officials would resolve the issue.
Mr Mukherjee is due to travel to Islamabad on May 21 for talks with his Pakistani counterpart. Foreign secretaries of the two sides are to meet a day ahead to review progress in their fourth round of the Composite Dialogue.
The Composite Dialogue covers a slew of issues, including the Kashmir dispute, and bomb blasts in Jaipur and an alleged infiltration attempt in the Samba area of their border recently, have ensured that the issue of terrorism is likely to dominate the forthcoming dialogue between the two sides, reports said.
India’s junior home minister Sriprakash Jaiswal obliquely blamed Pakistan for the Jaipur blasts. “We have repeatedly warned the state governments, especially states on the border, that an attack can occur at anytime. Especially Rajasthan, where seven months ago there was an attack on Ajmer Sharif. It is not correct to call it an intelligence failure,” he said.
The Press Trust of India said Mr Mukherjee’s security had been reviewed following intelligence inputs that militant groups were planning to carry out an attempt on his life. It said the review was carried out after federal security agencies received an “alarming intelligence input” that unidentified militants had carried out a recce to plan a suicide attack on Mr Mukherjee, who was earlier the defence minister.
The PTI quoted Indian intelligence sources as saying certain Pakistan- and
Bangladesh-based militant outfits like Lashkar-i-Toiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad named as groups which were planning to carry out the attack on Mr Mukherjee, who already has high category security cover.
Rajasthan state’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje demanded reinstatement of tough anti-terror laws. The BJP leader said the eight serial blasts that ripped through crowded areas and near a Hanuman temple were the handiwork of an organised “international terrorist gang” to create religious tension.
As investigators sifted through clues, police said eight persons, including a man injured in the blasts and a rickshaw puller, were being questioned. However, no arrests have been made so far, police said.
The PTI said high explosive RDX was used in the terror strike and the explosive devices were fitted with timers and planted on cycles, a modus operandi similar to the one used in last year’s blasts in court premises in Uttar Pradesh in which notionally Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami was involved.
AFP reports from Jaipur: Anti-riot troops from India’s Rapid Action Force, clad in blue fatigues, and state police fanned out across the city as a curfew was imposed from 9:00 am (0330 GMT) on Wednesday.
The Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has links to the extremist RSS and rules the western desert state of Rajasthan, of which Jaipur is the capital, called a strike on Wednesday to protest against the bombings.
But in the hospital wards and at the morgue, both Hindus and Muslims, a strong minority in the city, were among the dead.