GUWAHATI: A blast occurred in Sukleswar Ghat area here on Saturday leaving four persons injured, with the proscribed ULFA (Independent) claiming responsibility saying it was in protest against the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia said "an explosive device caused the blast" at around 11.45 am at a construction material dump site near a footpath in Pan Bazar area in which the four passersby, including a woman, were injured.
"There are many types of explosive devices...Some have switches. Only after investigation, it will be known if any militant outfit was involved in the explosion," he told reporters at the blast site along the Brahmaputra river front.
Paresh Baruah of United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) called up local TV channels claiming that the blast was carried out by the outfit in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and NRC updation exercise. He alleged that the NRC will be used to settle non-Assamese people in the state.
The complete draft NRC was published in July this year with 2.9 crore names in which over 40 lakh people were left out from the document. The Supreme Court later ordered resumption of filing of claims and objections by those left out from September 25 and it will remain open for the next 60 days.
The DGP said security has already been stepped up due to the festival season.
"As there is Durga Puja ahead, we took extra care and intensified security measures. If necessary, we will further strengthen security and deploy more forces in vulnerable areas," the DGP added.
Earlier, DCP Ranjan Bhuyan had said, "We don't suspect it to be a bomb explosion as there were no splinters found and the injuries were due to stones hitting them".
"We don't suspect it to be a sabotage or terrorist activity from the nature of the blast. It happened in a dump of sand kept for roadside drain construction. It may have had an unexploded shell which went off today," the DCP had said right after the blast.
He said the bomb squad is probing into the incident.
"The injuries are due to stones hitting them. We don't suspect it to be a bomb explosion as there were no splinters found or any burning smell associated with improvised explosive devise (IED) explosions," Bhuyan said.
The four injured have received minor wounds and were being provided medical care at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Civil Hospital nearby, the police official said.
They identified as Kalpa Jyoti Talukdar, Sanku Kumar Das, Taifuddin Ahmed and Binita Das.
"A forensic team is investigating the impact of the blast and assessing whether it was an explosive device or anything else that caused it," Education Minister and Guwahati MLA Siddhartha Bhattacharya said.
On being told that ULFA's self-styled "commander-in-chief" Paresh Baruah has claimed responsibility for the explosion, Bhattacharya said the outlawed organisation should first apologise to the people for the act.
"They (ULFA) should apologise to the people for doing it. What they will gain from such attacks on innocent people? No one has the right to do so," Bhattacharya said.
"Since the law and order situation in Assam has been most peaceful now, they (ULFA) tried to disturb it and create unrest in the state," he said and added, "Which problem will be solved by such subversive activities?"