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2006 Varanasi bombings: Twin blasts that shook the holy city

A series of bombs exploded in the holy city of Varanasi on March 7, 2006, killing at least 28 people and injuring more than a hundred.

The first blast occurred at the crowded Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple near the Banaras Hindu University at 6:20 pm. The explosive was hidden in a container near a gate where women frequently sit at the shrine. Hundreds of pilgrims flocked to the temple on Tuesday, which is considered a holy day by Hanuman Ji devotees.

Another blast occurred in the waiting room close to the travel office at the Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station, killing 11 people. Six bombs were apparently defused in different parts of the city, including a restaurant popular with tourists near the railway station.

Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister at the time, denounced the terrorists’ brutal act and ordered an investigation. Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, expressed his sorrow over the occurrence.

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A state of high alert has been issued in India’s largest cities. Police were dispatched to all the main religious sites of New Delhi. To protest the bombings, Varanasi was shut down – stores, businesses, schools and institutions were closed.

Lashkar-e Kahar/Qahab claimed responsibility for the attacks through a local news agency in Srinagar, threatening similar attacks in other cities if the government did not end its ‘catch and kill’ campaign in Jammu and Kashmir.

The terror of the bombings was recounted four years later, when an explosion occurred at Sheetla Ghat in December 2010. The railway ministry has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 100,000 to the relatives of those killed in the blast at Varanasi’s Cantonment railway station.


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