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Blast in Srinagar hours before chief ministers' meet

By Onkar Singh/Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: August 27, 2003 14:09 IST
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Hours before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was due to land in Srinagar to take part in the two-day Inter State Council Meet, a blast shook the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday morning.

The blast occurred around 1030 IST at Kak Sarai locality on a plot of land that had been sold by Kashmir Pandits to one Bashir Ahmed, a resident of the Mougal Mala area.

"The blast shattered the window panes of almost all the houses in the vicinity. Glass is littered everywhere on the top floor of my three-storeyed house," said Fayaz Ahmed, a carpet dealer.

Maqbool Hussain Sahaf and Mohammad Yaqub Sofi said that the impact of the blast had damaged the roof of their houses besides shattering the window panes.

"Smoke was billowing out after the blast and one could barely see anything. This is the first blast in this residential area in the last fourteen years. What is shocking is that it took place despite the area being regularly patrolled by the Border Security Force," they said.

Six-year-old Varun Singh was among the three persons injured in the incident. Glass pieces pierced his leg as he was standing outside his house nearby.

Senior officers of the J&K police were too busy in the security arrangements for the Inter State Council Meet, but a BSF commandant rushed to the spot to access the nature of the blast.

While the prime minister is scheduled to reach Srinagar around 1430 IST, several chief ministers and ministers are already in Jammu and Kashmir for the meet.

The Inter State Council Meet is scheduled to begin at 1600 IST at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre adjoining the Dal Lake.

The Hurriyat Conference and senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani have called for a bandh in the summer capital and other towns.

More reports from Jammu and Kashmir

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Onkar Singh/Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar