By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR – At least six people were injured on Saturday in two blasts in Jammu, the principal Indian city in a region disputed by neighbouring Pakistan, police said, ahead of the arrival of Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on a cross-country march.
The blasts hit Jammu’s transport yard in the Narwal area, said regional police chief Mukesh Singh, as security has been heightened with Gandhi’s march expected to reach the city on Monday.
Thousands have joined his march against “hate and division”, which aims to turn the leftist Congress party’s fortunes around after its drubbing by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in a 2019 election.
Modi wants to take control of India’s part of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir, hotly contested by Muslim-majority Pakistan. It has been governed almost exclusively by Muslim chief ministers.
Gandhi’s march, which has been better received by the public than expected, is expected to culminate in Srinagar later this month.
The first blast occurred around 0445 GMT, followed by another explosion, said another police official, who asked not be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“The whole area has been cordoned off and a search operation underway,” he said.
Jaswinder Singh, who saw the first blast, said it occurred in a vehicle that was sent to a workshop for repairs.
“There was a big bang and when I came out, I saw a blast had ripped apart a car. Fifteen minutes later, there was another explosion nearby. Those injured are mostly car mechanics,” he said.