SIT to probe Jhabua blasts, CM meets affected families (third lead)

Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh), Sep 14 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government on Monday set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the twin blasts in Petlawad town of Jhabua district.

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

On Saturday, Chouhan ordered a judicial probe into the explosions after 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, said Makrand Deuskar, superintendent of police (law and order).

Jhabua’s Additional Superintendent of Police 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.

Chouhan on Monday again met the families of people killed in the blasts near the new bus stand in Petlawad town.

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

The chief minister went to the houses of those affected by the blasts and assured them of his government’s support in this hour of crisis.

Chouhan also ordered the 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.

The chief minister announced on Sunday that he would meet the families of the 17 dead who hailed from villages on Monday.

Meanwhile, police seized 59 detonators and two batteries from the house of Kaswa in Petlawad, the officer said, adding that police broke open Kaswa’s house and seized the detonators and batteries.

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.

The chief minister met the survivors on Sunday, during which he faced protests from angry people who demanded action against erring officials.

Chouhan also announced a reward of Rs.1 lakh for the arrest of main accused Rajendra Kaswa and Rs.5 lakh to kin of each deceased person instead of Rs.2 lakh announced earlier. He also announced jobs to one member of each bereaved family.

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