Over 30 injured, 14 seriously
JANAKPUR, April 30: Four people were killed and 31 others injured when a powerful bomb exploded near a group of demonstrators at Ramananda chowk in Janakpur Monday.
The bomb fitted on a motorcycle went off at around 10:30 a.m. when Mithila State Struggle Committee (MSSC) was organizing a sit-in program demanding an autonomous Mithila state in federal Nepal.
Ranju Jha, a 32-year-old theatre artist affiliated with Mithila Natyakala Parishad, a cultural wing of the MSSC, and Bimal Sharan, 42, of Janakpur, died instantly in the blast. Suresh Upadhyay, 45, and Jhagar Das, both from Janakpur died while undergoing treatment at Janakpur Zonal Hospital.
The incident happened on the third day of protests by the MTSC which was organizing a three-hour sit-in program by preventing vehicles from passing through Ramananda Chowk. Two people riding a motorcycle reached there at around 10:20 a.m. and reportedly parked the motorcycle near a crowd of demonstrators. Within a couple of minutes after they moved to a road-side shop and the bomb exploded.
Of the 31 injured, 14 people who sustained seriously injuries were airlifted to Kathmandu by two helicopters of Nepal Army (NA) and Yeti Airlines. They are now being treated at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH).
According to Dr Ramesh Acharya of the TUTH, Dipendra Shah, 40, of Begashivapur VDC in Dhanusha district and Ojir Shekh of Janakpur were in critical condition and were rushed for emergency surgery Monday evening.
Roshan Shrivastav, one of the injured being treated at the TUTH, said he disnot know what had happened when a deafening explosion ripped through the sit-in venue. "I knew it was a blast only when I saw wounded people lying around me," he said. "I helped take some wounded people into ambulances. Later, I came to know too was wounded."
Surendra Mandal, 22, also being treated treated in Kathmandu, now regrets joining the crowd at the blast site. "I was out of my home to buy medicines," Mandal, a resident of Janakpur-13, told Republica in Kathmandu. "When I saw the crowd, I could not help but go there and the bomb exploded." Mandal has broken one of his legs. "I cannot work now. How will I feed my family?" he lamented.
The locals nabbed motorcycle owner Jaya Prakash Chaudhari and handed him over to police. Chaudhari was captured while running away from the blast scene. DSP Tek Bahadur Gurung said police will trace others involved in the blast.
All government and non-government offices, factories and shops were closed after Monday noon to mourn the incident. Pasting a notice on its gate, Janakpur Municipality on Monday announced that the office will remain closed for two days. Meanwhile, the MSSC announced an indefinite strike demanding that the government arrest the perpetrators and declare those killed as martyrs.
Meanwhile, Jantantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Rajan group) has claimed the responsibility for the blast.
In a press statement National Human Rights Council (NHRC) condemned the blast and urged the government to probe the incident and take action against those involved.
Nepali Congress (NC) asked the government to provide compensation to the victims´ families and bear treatment costs of the injured.
Bimalendra Nidhi, who represents Dhanusha in Constituent Assembly (CA), also condemned the blast and demanded the government declare those killed as martyrs and bring the guilty to the book.