Singh calls for calm during visit to Hyderabad following deadly blasts

AFP-JIJI

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday appealed for calm as he flew to Hyderabad and visited some of the 117 people wounded in twin bombings last week that killed 16 people.

Singh also visited the blast site in Dilsukh Nagar, where two bicycle bombs exploded within a few minutes of each other outside a cinema and near a bus stand Thursday evening.

The prime minister met with some of the blast survivors and medical staff in two city hospitals and expressed his condolences.

“It is most important that in this hour of grief the people should maintain calm,” he said.

Hyderabad, one of the major hubs of India’s booming software industry, is the capital of coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Singh has vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of what he called a “dastardly” attack, the first major bombings in India since 2011.

His Congress party-led government was criticized in Parliament on Friday by the opposition, which said the bombings had exposed systemic security failures at a time when India is on heightened alert.

India’s main opposition BJP party mocked Singh’s one-day trip to Hyderabad, saying the blasts were a result of the Indian government’s failure to tackle terrorism.

“The prime minister’s visit to Hyderabad is a nonevent,” BJP leader Balbir Punj told reporters in New Delhi. “In fact, if he and his government had been sensitive to the issue of terrorism in this country . . . this attack would not have taken place.”

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy has said investigators have found “vital clues,” but gave no details.

Newspapers have pointed the finger at the Indian Mujahideen, a banned militant outfit that has claimed responsibility for previous attacks.

The fitting of the explosive devices to bicycles was similar to other attacks by the outfit, local media reports quoted investigators as saying. The homegrown group has links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant outfit blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed 166 lives, according to Indian intelligence officials.