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MP government sets up SIT for Jhabua blasts

The Madhya Pradesh government on Monday set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the twin blasts in Jhabua district as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visited the victims in Petalwad town once again.

Police during a raid seized 59 detonators and two batteries from the house of main accused Rajendra Kaswa in Petlawad on Monday, an official said, adding that police broke open the house and seized the detonators and batteries.

The SIT has been set up to investigate Saturday’s blasts and photos of Rajendra Kaswa, the main accused now on the run, would be released in the public domain to nab him, Chouhan told the media in state capital Bhopal.

Superintendent of Police (Law and Order) Makrand Deuskar told reporters that during a meeting of senior officials over the blasts, all district officials and superintendents were directed to inspect licences and stocked explosives in their respective regions.

On Saturday, Chouhan ordered a judicial probe into the twin explosions that rocked Petlawad town after state Home Minister Babulal Gaur, who visited the spot, briefed him about the situation.

The seven-member SIT would be headed by Jhabua’s Additional Superintendent of Police Seema Alwa, said Deuskar.

Jhabua’s ASP Seema Alwa told IANS that police conducted searches at many places to arrest Kaswa. “A manhunt is on to get hold of Rajendra Kaswa,” she said.

On Monday, Chouhan once again visited the families of people killed in the blasts near the new bus stand in Petlawad town and assured them the government was with them in this hour of need and sorrow.

As many as 88 people have been killed and more than 100 others injured in Saturday’s gas cylinder blast in Sethia Hotel and the other blast in a nearby godown belonging to Rajendra Kaswa where explosives used in mining were stored, near Petlawad’s new bus stand.

The chief minister on Sunday visited houses of those affected by the blasts and assured them of his government’s support.

He also ordered for removal of two senior officials, the area sub-divisional magistrate and the sub-divisional police officer, on charges of dereliction of duty and the transfer of the entire staff of the police station in the affected area.

Chouhan also said that he would meet the families of the 17 dead, who hailed from villages, on Monday.

ASP Seema Alwa told IANS that the toll in the twin blasts remained 88, and refused to confirm reports about the death of one more person.

On Sunday, as Chouhan visited the victims’ families an agitated crowd had demanded strict action against the erring officials in the case.

Chouhan assured them of action and announced a reward of Rs.1 lakh for the arrest of the main accused and Rs.5 lakh for the kin of each deceased person. He also announced jobs to one member of each bereaved family.