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Sonia visits tense but calm Malegaon

Written by: Staff
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Malegaon, Sep 9 (UNI) A day after three bomb blasts claimed 38 lives in this predeominantly Muslim town, life started returning to normal today after curfew was lifted even as UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi visited the injured and disbursed cash relief to the bereaved families.

More than 1,000 police and para-military personnel fortified this communally sensitive town, located on Mumbai-Agra highway, ahead of Ms Gandhi visit. The city police control room said six companies of the Special Reserve Police, one of CRPF and 100 cops each from Ahmednagar, Dhule, Jalgaon and Nandurbar districts have been deployed in the town which was tense but calm as people were preparing to bury the dead.

The Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) accompanied by Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) officials began their probe into the blasts.

The investigators with sniffer dogs visited the blasts sites in Bada Kabrastan and Musharwat Chowk and collected samples to look for vital clues.

ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi and ACP Subodh Jaiswal have arrived here to supervise the investigations. The blasts which came two days after the peaceful conclusion of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival cast a pall of gloom in this town.

Curfew was lifted at 0800 hrs to enable residents offer their daily prayers in mosques across this textile city. However, Bada Kabrastan, a blast site, remained cordoned off to enable Ms Gandhi's visit and for investigators to collect evidence.

Of the 11 cheques meant for disbursement to the near and dear ones of the deceased by Ms Gandhi, family members of four victims refused to accept, saying the amount was meagre. They demanded a compensation of upto Rs five lakh and a government job for one member of the deceased's family.

The state government had announced a compensation of Rs one lakh to kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the wounded besides medical expenses.

Maharashtra government today put the official death toll at 31 and said some of the casualtiesa were unrelated the blasts but had been inadvdertantly included in the toll yesterday.

Describing it as a dastardly act aimed at dividing the people, Ms Gandhi said ''the perpetrators of the crime will not succeed in their designs as we are one and united.'' Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who accompanied her to Farhan hospital and the blast site at Bada Kabrastan, said the police and intelligence machinery are doing their best to apprehend those responsible for the terror attack. ''Whatever is necessary is being done. The Centre and the state are cooperating and intelligence is being shared,'' he added.

Mr Patil said the only way to thwart the perpetrator's aim is by maintaining communal harmony. He appreciated the resilience shown by the people after the terrorist attacks.

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