JNN 22 Feb 2013 Hyderabad : At least 20 people died and 52 more were critically injured following two explosions in a market in India’s southern city of Hyderabad on Thursday. evening in the biggest terrorist attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, police said.
The serial blasts, which took place.near a bus stop and a theater in a busy commercial area and near a police commissioner’s office of the city in Dil such nagar area of the city, were no doubt a terrorist attack, police said.
The blasts occurred about two minutes apart. The bombs were apparently intended to hurt as many people as possible. Local TV stations have since aired debris and body parts strewn on the street.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the attack ” dastardly” and vowed to punish the perpetrators of the blasts, while appealing for calm of the public.
Singh also announced Rs200,000 [Indian Rupee] compensation for the families of the deceased, Rs50,000 for the injured. Hyderabad is a city in northwest India with a population of around 10 million. It’s seen as a hub for India’s information technology industry and has a mixed population of Muslims and Hindus.
Police in several other major cities of India, including capital Delhi and financial capital Mumbai, have been put on alert, according to official sources.
However, Indian intelligence officers also did not rule out other angles in the blast, which rocked the famous Dilsukh Nagar area known for its crowds.
Police rushed the injured to hospital and checked the sites of the blasts, according to local TV footages.
The bombs were planted on two motorbikes parked at the site of the explosion. Police have also found another IED bomb in downtown area.
The government denied charges of intelligence failure, although some hinted authorities got information that terrorists were ready to strike two days earlier.
Hyderabad, which has a large Muslim population, has been subject to terrorist attacks in the past.
The blasts came on the same day, as India’s parliament opened for its key budget session, amid tensions following the hanging earlier this month of the Kashmiri separatist, Mohammed Afzal Guru.
Indian Muslims have been protesting the execution of militant Afzal Guru in the 2001 parliament attack over the past few weeks.
Relations between India and Pakistan have remained tense since last month after skirmishes broke out at the Line-of-Control in Kashmir, in which four Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed.
The last terrorist attack in India occurred in September, when a bomb blast outside a New Delhi court house killed 13 people.
Indian Workers Strike
It should be a bad time for the Indian Government as India’s public-sector banks and offices were already closed on the second day of a general strike staged to protest against the government’s planned pro-market reforms.
On Thursday, the All India Trade Union Congress said millions of Indian workers participated in the strike held to keep up pressure on the government until their demands are met.
Eleven Indian unions had called for the walkout to express their outrage at the government measures, which they denounced as “anti-poor” and likely to bring about layoffs and price hikes.
According to analysts, the general strike highlighted discontent among Indian workers as the impact of the stoppage was widely felt in heavily unionized state institutions.
“The government must sit down with the workers and hear them out because it cannot afford to ignore this class any more with general elections due in 2014,” said Shubha Singh, a New Delhi-based political analyst and writer.
Leaders of India’s two main leftist parties also said they were boycotting the opening session of the parliament to voice their solidarity with the striking workers.
Indian Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry has estimated the losses from the 48-hour strike at over 200 billion rupees (USD3.7 billion).
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called on the unions to call off the strike, stating that the move will cause a “loss to our economy.”
On Wednesday, Narender Singh, an Indian trade union leader, was killed in the city of Ambala after being hit by a bus at the start of the nationwide strike.
The government’s reforms involve further opening the market, insurance and aviation sectors to foreign investment to boost the country’s slowing economy.
They also include raising the prices of subsidized diesel and cutting the number of discounted cooking gas cylinders to reduce a ballooning fiscal deficit.