Lucknow, Nov 23 (UNI) In a major terrorist strike, at least nine people were killed and around 35 injured when powerful blasts rocked district courts in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi today.
The Uttar Pradesh Government termed the blasts as ''an effort to disturb the prevailing peace in the state''.
The Special Task Force (STF) and the state police have been assigned the responsibility to track down the culprits.
Principal secretary (Home) J N Chamber said here that while two people were killed in Varanasi, one died in Faizabad. But official sources from Faizabad said four people were killed in the blast. In Lucknow, one person was injured, Mr Chamber informed. However, sources in Varanasi confirmed having counted the bodies of five victims in hospital.
The deceased in Faizabad blast have been identified as Radhika Prasad (advocate), Nal Sahib, Phagu Ram and Om Prakash.
In all the three blasts, cycles parked inside the court premises, were used. In Faizabad, apparently a brand new cycle was used to carry out the act, the DM said.
In Malegaon(Maharastra), the terrorists had tiggered explosion, using a newly purchased cycle on September 8, 2006 in which about 38 people were killed and over 100 injured.
''The casualty figure is likely to go up,'' said a police official.
In Varanasi, the blast occurred at the district court premises but there was no official confirmation on whether anyone had died in the explosion. However, about a dozen people were injured in the incident. At the time of the blast in Varanasi, BJP MLA Ajay Rai was present in the courst premises in connection with a case.
Soon after the blasts, work in all courts of the state was suspended in apprehension of more explosions.
The convoy of state police chief Vikram Singh was stopped while he was returning from the Lucknow civil court by agitating lawyers.
The DGP had gone to assess the damage.
''I believe it is the handiwork of groups who are trying to spread terror in our country,'' Minister of state for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters in New Delhi.
In all the three cities, lawyers had beaten up terrorists arrested there in the recent past. The lawyers had manhandled terrorists in Varanasi, blamed for the March, 2006 blasts. In Faizabad, they had refused to fight cases of terrorists involved in the 'fidayeen' attack on the 'makeshift' Ramlala Temple on July 5, 2004.
A few days ago, lawyers in Lucknow had heckled three JeM terrorists charged with conspiracy to kidnap a UP VVIP politician.
This is the second time serial blasts have occurred in the state this year. On May 23, 2007, a series of blasts had hit the communally sensitive eastern UP town of Gorakhpur. The blasts had taken place soon after Ms Mayawati took over as the Chief Minister.
On March 7, 2006, serial blasts in Varanasi had killed 20 people.