"Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, accused of several terrorist attacks, is man behind serial blasts in Patna," an Intelligence Bureau (IB) official here said.

"Initial investigation suggested the involvement of IM in serial blasts in Patna. The modus operandi and low-intensity bomb blasts are part of IM operation," the IB official said declining to be named.

The IB official said that one of the suspects who was arrested has confessed to the involvement of IM in Sunday's seven blasts -- six of which took place in and around the Gandhi Maidan where Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi later addressed a rally.

"More information will come out after likely arrest of three or four suspects involved in the blasts," the IB official said.

Tahseen Akhtar, considered to be close to Yasin Bhatkal, the man who co-founded Indian Mujahideen, hails from a village in Samastipur, about 100 km from Patna.

In the last few months, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on more than 10 occasions raided his native village but failed to find him.

Earlier, the NIA issued an arrest warrant against Tahseen Akhtar, and also announced a reward of Rs.10 lakh for information that could lead to his arrest.

The NIA team arrested Mohammad Danish Ansari, an alleged operative of Indian Mujahideen, from Chakjora village in Darbhanga in January 2013. Ansari is allegedly also a close associate of Yasin Bhatkal. Security agencies claim Ansari provided shelter to Yasin Bhatkal in 2009-10 in Bihar.

Patna blasts toll rises to six as bomber dies

The toll in the serial blasts went up to six following the death of a bomber who was seriously injured in an explosion while setting up a bomb, an official said.

"A suspected accused (who was) seriously injured in bomb explosion while fitting a timer at Patna railway junction died late Sunday night," Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said.

Officials at Patna Medical College and Hospital, where 83 injured in serial blasts were admitted on Sunday, said that at present 38 are undergoing treatment. Five are in critical condition and others have been discharged, officials said.

Security was tightened in the city a day after six bombs exploded in and around the Gandhi Maidan where Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed a rally hours later and a blast took place at the railway station.

Additional security forces have been deployed at all important places including crowded markets to instill a sense of confidence among local people, who panicked after the serial blasts, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) S.K. Bharadwaj said.

He said that the attack was the first in the history of Patna.

Maharaj said that National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, which has begun probing into the serial blast, Monday sealed the Gandhi Maidan.

The NIA team hopes to collect more evidence from the ground.

Another senior police official said that a total of 13 suspected people have been detained including a seriously injured youth from the ground after serial blasts.

"All of them have been interrogated by the Bihar police, NIA and IB officials," he said.

Detained persons in Ranchi released

Three persons detained here in connection with the serial bomb blasts have been released after interrogation even as raids continued in several areas of Jharkhand in connection with the blasts.
    
All the three detained after the blasts on Sunday were released after interrogation last night, a senior police officer said.
     
Soon after Bihar Police tipped off their counterparts here that some accused in Patna blasts hailed from the state, he said raids are being carried out.
    
Police recovered black powder, materials used to make IEDs, pressure cooker and extremist literature during the raids, he said.

NSG, NIA to probe Patna blasts

Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said that teams of the National Security Guards (NSG) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will investigate the bomb blasts in the Bihar capital.

Terming the blasts "unfortunate," the minister told reporters, "The Home Ministry has decided to rush NSG and NIA teams to Bihar to inquire into the whole blast sequence".

"They were low intensity bomb blasts," he said.

RPN Singh said the government did not have any particular intelligence input about the blasts of Sunday, although such unfortunate incidents are "expected" around the time of major festivals.

Modi calls for Hindu-Muslim unity

Meanwhile, BJP's PM face Narendra Modi called for Hindu-Muslim unity even as he viciously targeted Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Addressing hundreds of thousands at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna on Sunday, Modi poured scorn on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and called dynastic politics a curse on Indian democracy.

In a clear departure from the Hindutva politics he has advocated, the Gujarat Chief Minister said Hindus and Muslims must battle poverty instead of fighting one another.

"Do the Hindus want to fight poverty or Muslims?" he thundered, his question directed at the Hindu section of the audience. He quickly added, "Do the Muslims want to fight poverty or Hindus?"



The Bharatiya Janata Party veteran went on to answer the question himself, saying both communities needed to battle poverty. "We want to bring together all communities and religions in our country."

In an obvious bid to puncture criticism that he was biased towards the Hindus, Modi pointed out how some of the most visible economic development in Gujarat took place in areas where Muslims live in large numbers.

Modi made no reference in his hour-long speech to the string of bomb explosions. He, however, urged the gathering to disperse peacefully and not to be provoked under any circumstances. He later told the media that the blasts were "deeply saddening".

In his speech, Modi launched a blistering attack on Nitish Kumar, blaming him for the collapse of the 17-year-long alliance between the BJP and the ruling Janata Dal-United. But he did not spare Rahul Gandhi -- his favourite punching bag -- and the now jailed RJD leader Lalu Prasad either.

Amid applause and sloganeering, Modi accused Nitish Kumar of "betraying" the people of Bihar by dumping the BJP in June over its decision to give a larger role to the Gujarat strongman. Making an emotive appeal, he called the voters to "punish" Nitish Kumar in the next election.

Blasts to vitiate Bihar's atmosphere: Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the serial blasts were aimed at vitiating the atmosphere in Bihar.

"Police is probing the serial blasts and will come out with solid revelation in next 48 hours," Nitish Kumar told a specially convened press conference here. He also condemned the blasts.

He announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakh to the kin of each victim killed in the blasts and said the state would foot the medical expenses of the injured.

"It appeared to us the serial blasts were planned to vitiate the atmosphere and create trouble across Bihar. Those behind the blasts have chosen the day that coincides with the rally. It was a deliberate attempt to create tension in the atmosphere," Nitish Kumar said.

He said that initial investigation suggests the motive was to create trouble, a matter of serious concern. "It is a blot on the peaceful atmosphere of Bihar," he added.

The Chief Minister said there was no intelligence input either from the central or state governments. He denied that it was a result of security lapse. "There was no security lapse as security was tightened for the rally," he said.

Nitish Kumar ruled out political conspiracy behind the blasts. "Political differences are one thing and conspiracy to target rally of any party is another thing," he said.

Politcal blame game continues

A political blame game over the Patna serial blasts erupted with BJP alleging the security at the venue was inadequate and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ruling out any lapse on this score.
     
BJP


BJP leader Sushma Swaraj also blamed "gross intelligence failure" for the blasts while Nitish said there were no intelligence inputs about the explosions either from the Centre or from the state.
    
BJP's Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad sought a thorough probe into the blasts and said the response of state police was not adequate even though the rally was fixed eight months ago.
    
"The police should have taken precautions after the first blast. There were no metal detectors, frisking and other security measures at the rally. The police preparations left much to be desired," he said.

Congress

Congress leader Rashid Alvi went on to say that any probe into the blasts should also find out if any political parties were behind the blasts for personal benefits.
     
Congress's Digvijay Singh called for a thorough probe, noting that it could otherwise create a "perfect setting for Modi's launch in Bihar".
     
JDU


Nitish said the timing of the blasts was "very worrying".
     
JDU leader Sabir Ali said authorities will not spare anyone behind the incidents. "But who has benefitted from the incident, who has benefited from its timing," he asked.
    
Asked if BJP was allegedly behind the blasts, Ali said, "the circumstances are speaking a lot of things. We are not naming anyone before the inquiry is complete but circumstances are speaking a lot."
    
RJD


RJD MP Ramkirpal Yadav blamed the JDU government for the blast, saying it must be responsible for this "lax" in security.

JPN/Agencies

Latest News from India News Desk