Varanasi ghats easy terror target

A visit to the ghats, named after gods, goddesses, religious and social figures, clearly reveals that causing an explosion here even heavier than the one on Tuesday last is no brainer for terrorists who are experts in detonating explosives in crowded places.

Potholes in the steep stone stairways along the river and numerous cavities provide the best hide-out to place the bomb that can be triggered from a distance.

And there could be many choices for the bomber: unused boats, wooden cots, "chatris" (large sized umbrellas below which the priests perform rituals at the ghats) which are scattered in all corners.

Investigating officials believe that the bomb at the ancient Shitla Ghat on Tuesday last that killed a baby girl and injured many, including foreign tourists, might have been planted in a crevice or a cavity that might have been triggered later with a remote control device.

Even security arrangements at the Ghat, where the famous ‘Ganga Arti’ is held each evening, seems inadequate. Many of the police booths remain locked, while a handful of security personnel loiter around.

“There is virtually no security here though there is always a big crowd, which includes a large number of foreign tourists,” said Kanahiya Tripathi, the patron of Ganga Seva Nidhi, the organisation that conducts the ‘Ganga Arti’ at Shitla Ghat.

“We demand Mumbai-like security arrangements at the ghats. Fortunately, Tuesday terror attack did not claim many lives but we may run out of luck next time,” he said. There could be huge casualties if adequate security arrangements are not made here as the place is always crowded, Tripathi added.

The police also seem to admit this. “Now, there will be round-the-clock security at Shitla Ghat...earlier security personnel used to be deployed only during the arti,” said Varanasi Deputy Inspector General of police Prem Prakash.

He also said a special police zone would be formed for ensuring security at the ghats.
Ghats lining the banks of the river Ganga, 84 in all, are considered the holiest and are an integral part of the temple-town's culture and tradition.

‘High explosives’ used in blast: Police

Lucknow, DHNS: Preliminary investigations have revealed that “high explosives” were used in Tuesday's blast at Shitla Ghat on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi during a “Ganga Arti” in which a girl was killed. Many were injured in the explosion. “Although the nature of the explosives will be known only after forensic examination of the evidence collected from the site of the blast, preliminary investigations have pointed to the use of high explosives,” Varanasi DIG Prem Prakash said on Friday. “Several teams of experts are working on the evidence collected from the site,” he said.

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