Assam announces reward for blasts leads; PM, Sonia to visit today

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Guwahati, Nov 1 (UNI) Simmering tension prevails in Assam two days after serial blasts ripped apart the state with the government today announcing a reward for any information on the explosions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are scheduled to visit the affected areas later in the day.

A statewide bandh called by the saffron brigade brought things to a standstill across the state, with the blast-ravaged towns of Guwahati, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta Road remaining closed since Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet, in an emergent meeting, decided to create a the post of Guwahati city police commissioner and also announced a reward for information on blasts.

Normalcy refused to return to the state as people failed to come to terms with the massive trail of death and devastation left by the Black Thursday serial blasts.

The heap of tangled metal and chunks of charred human flesh and organs left behind at each of the nine blast spots were being cleared after NSG sleuths and other forensic experts collected vital clues to put together the puzzle that showed no signs of being solved even after two days.

Air at all the blasts spots carried the stench of burnt metal and flesh. Police and para-military forces were deployed at all sensitive spots.

The police and government came under heavy criticism as it failed to make any noteworthy breakthrough in nabbing the culprits.

One Zulfikar Ali, whose bike was used in the blast at Pan Bazaar, was arrested last evening. Zulfikar hailed from Moirabari in Morigaon district, the same place in which a mobile connection from which an SMS claiming responsibility was sent.

An obscure organisation Islamic Security Force (Indian Mujahideen) had claimed responsibility for the serial blasts and warned of more violence.

The SIM card was registered in the name of one Nazeer Ahmed in Moirabari, though police failed to trace him due to incomplete address.

A few more suspects had been detained by the police since yesterday, but no major revelation could be extracted during the interrogations.

A statewide 12-hour bandh given by BJP and VHP brought things to a standstill, though public resented the bandh call in view of the prevailing circumstances where over 400 injured people were still in hospitals.

However, people remained indoors to avoid any violence. No reports of violence was received yet, though a few bandh supporters were reported to have been picked up from various places to enforce the bandh.

The Prime Minister and Ms Gandhi are scheduled to arrive here later in the day. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and senior BJP leader L K Advani had visited the state yesterday.

While Mr Patil maintained that there was no evidence on involvement of Indian Mujahideen in the blasts so far, Mr Advani pointed the accusing finger at cross-border sponsored terrorism.

At least 77 people were killed and over 400 injured in nine synchronised blasts - three each at Guwahati and Kokrajhar, two at Barpeta Road and one at Bongaigaon - on Thursday.

UNI SG DPM SK KP1316

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