New Delhi, Dec 13: Home Minister Shivraj Patil today condemned the blast in the Rajdhani Express in Assam, which killed five people and injured about 10 others, and assured all possible help to the state government in tackling such terror attacks.
Expressing anguish over the blast and conveying his sympathies to the victims and their families, the Home Minister said the Centre would provide all necessary assistance to the state government and Railways to take steps to provide protection to passengers and see that such incidents do not recur.
Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to the Chief Secretary of Assam to get details of the incident which ocurred at Sungajan near Dimapur early this morning.
A central team of National Security Guard would leave for Assam tomorrow to help the state government in the investigation of the blast, which the police suspect was carried out by suspected Adivasis.
The blast occurred in the first compartment of the train which was carrying railway staff and a number of passengers. A programmable timer device was planted there by some unknown passengers, who alighted at Moioni.
The blast, which ocurred at 0130 hrs, tore through a rake of the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express from Dibrugarh and badly damaged the parcel van. Since the blast did not damage the tracks, the driver managed to take the train to the nearest Bokajan station from where it later left for New Delhi.
Though detailed investigations were still going on, the Home Ministry sources suspected the hands of the All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) behind the blast. The group could have carried out the blast to express their protest against the recent violence against Advasis in the state.
AANLA, which originated in 2005, could have got training and support from ULFA in managing to conduct the powerful blast with the help of a timer device, the sources said. Howerver, they clarified that though two more tribal groups, Adivasi Cobra and Birsa Commando Force, were also in Assam, the site of blast indicated towards AANLA.
''With weapon lease and outsourcing of crimes being common in the North Eastern Region, it would be too early to say clearly who was behind the blast. However, the needle of suspicion is clearly pointing AALNA which must have received training in the high grade explosive timer device explosion,'' the sources felt. Moreover, the state government had recently arrested some militants in Guwahati and based on the information received from them, it apprehended some terror attack. So a general alert was issued by the state government to all the establishments, the sources said.
Admitting rise in incidents of violence and civilian casualties in Assam this year, the sources said the overall violence in the North Eastern region had declined from 1366 in 2006 to 1346 in 2007 with decline being observed in Tripura and Nagaland.
The number of extremist killed has gone up from 395 last year to 458 this year in the region while the civilian casualties have gone up from 309 last year to 438 this eyar. However, the kidnapping incidents have come down from 306 last year to 258 this year, they informed.
Meanwhile, the railway authorities have strengthened their alertness in the state following the blast to prevent recurrence of any such incidents.