UP Minister injured in bomb attack in Allahabad

UP Minister Nand Gopal Gupta "Nandi" was today injured along with two others in a bomb attack apparently targeting the BSP leader near his residence here, an incident that triggered criticism from opposition parties on Mayawati government`s handling of law and order.

Updated: Jul 12, 2010, 22:25 PM IST

Allahabad: UP Minister Nand Gopal Gupta
"Nandi" was today injured along with two others in a bomb
attack apparently targeting the BSP leader near his residence
here, an incident that triggered criticism from opposition
parties on Mayawati government`s handling of law and order.

A woman claimed that her husband Rakesh Malaviya, who
had gone to meet the minister, had succumbed to injuries
suffered in the explosion but police and hospital authorities
said that only three persons were injured in the attack and no
death had occurred.

Five supporters of a rival local SP leader Dilip
Mishra were detained following the incident, which sent shock
waves in the city.

The attack took place at around 11 AM when 36-year-old
Gupta, Minister for Institutional Finance, Stamp and Judicial
Tax in the Mayawati Government, was going to a temple situated
about 60 metres from his residence.

As he moved 10-12 metres towards the temple, the
explosion took place in a moped in which the bomb was
apparently planted, Additional Director General (ADG) Law and
Order Brijlal said.

Local journalist Vijay Pratap Singh and the minister`s
personal security officer Sanjay, who accompanied Gupta, were
seriously injured in the blast, Deputy Inspector General of
Police Braj Bhushan said.

They were rushed to the private Jeevan Jyoti hospital,
where Gupta was stated to be out of danger. But the condition
of the other two, who were admitted in the intensive care
unit, was stated to be serious, the DIG said.

The explosion was prima facie caused by a device
planted inside the two-wheeler which was parked alongside the
minister`s vehicle, police said.

The incident prompted criticism from leaders of the
opposition parties, who questioned Mayawati`s claims of
"establishing the rule of law in Uttar Pradesh".

"It is a sad incident... if a minister has to face
this, it reflects the kind of law and order situation which
exists in the state," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.

UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, "There is
complete disorder in Uttar Pradesh and the state government
has not taken note of it."

"We had been highlighting the bad state of affairs in
the state at every level and the attack on a Cabinet Minister
today goes on to prove the magnitude of the problem",
Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said while
terming the attack as "most unfortunate".

"Today`s incident has proved that no one is safe in
Uttar Pradesh," BJP spokesman and vice president of the state
unit Hriday Narain Dixit said.

Criticising the opposition parties for their comments
following the attack, the ruling BSP said that it was
"shameful" that they were indulging in "petty politics" on the
issue.

"Leaders of SP and Congress should ask themselves what
did they to ensure law and order in the state when they were
in power," state Minister and BSP national general secretary
Nasimuddin Siddiqui said.

Replying to questions, Brijlal said in Lucknow that no
firing took place during the incident and that they were
trying to ascertain the motive behind it. "We cannot say at
the moment that the minister was the target. It is a serious
issue and it is under investigation," he said.

Within a few hours of the attack, five persons were
picked up from the house of local SP leader Mishra with whom
Gupta had a long-standing land dispute, police said.

Although senior officials were tightlipped on the
detentions, sources in the district police said on condition
of anonymity that the five youths have been picked up from
Naini in the district`s trans-Yamuna region for interrogation.

The powerful explosion damaged at least half-a-dozen
vehicles and walls of buildings of the narrow street which
leads to the residence of Gupta, a local trader who had made
his electoral debut in the last assembly elections in 2007
defeating heavyweights like BJP`s Keshri Nath Tripathi and
Rita Bahuguna Joshi from the Congress.

Tripathi, who visited the injured minister, described
the incident as "a very serious matter" and demanded a CBI
inquiry into it.

As the news of the explosion spread, angry supporters
of the ruling BSP swarmed Gupta`s house and the hospital and
raised slogans against "inefficiency" of the police. Both the
buildings were cordoned off and heavy deployment of police and
paramilitary personnel was put in place.

Mayawati called a meeting of senior officials and
Principal Secretary Kunwar Fateh Bahadur along with DGP
Karmveer Singh flew to Allahabad on her direction.

A number of political leaders, including BSP MP from
Phulpur Kapil Muni Karwaria, visited the hospital. The
agitated crowd was pacified by family members of the minister
who said that Gupta was out of danger.

Gupta`s victory from Allahabad (South) constituency
had helped him get a ministerial berth in the Uttar Pradesh
cabinet against the backdrop of Mayawati`s strategy to widen
its social base by wooing upper caste groups like Brahmins and
Vaishyas, to which he belongs.

The BSP described the attack as a challenge
posed by anti-social elements to the state government and
vowed to trace the culprits and "bring them to book.

"We will not allow the perpetrators of this audacious
crime to go unpunished," BSP chief and minister Swami Prasad
Maurya told reporters here.

PTI