- 2 men on motorcycle threw grenade at Nirankari Bhawan: eyewitnesses
- About 250 people were inside the hall when the attack took place
- Explosion took place just eight kilometres from the Amritsar airport
Three people were killed and around 20 injured in a grenade attack at a prayer hall in Amritsar's Rajasansi village on Sunday, the police said. Eyewitnesses say that two men on a motorcycle, their faces covered, threw a grenade at the Nirankari Bhawan, where a religious ceremony was on at the time, and fled.
The attack took place amid a high alert that six to seven Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists had entered the state and were "planning to move towards Delhi". While the police are analysing the CCTV footage and looking for clues to identify the attackers, they don't rule out a terror angle.
"It (this incident) appears to have a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people, so we will take it as a terrorist act. Till proven otherwise, prima facie we will take it as that," Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora told news agency PTI.
The incident happened just eight kilometres from the Amritsar airport. Surinder Pal Singh Parmar, a senior officer, said the around 20 injured have been taken to the hospital and the bodies of the victims sent for post-mortem.
Every Sunday, hundreds of devotees gather here for prayers and kirtan. About 250 people were inside the hall when the attack took place. The two men also threatened devotees with a gun before flinging the explosive into the prayer hall.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has promised strongest possible action for this reprehensible act of violence.
The possibility of involvement of ISI-backed Khalistani/Kashmiri terror groups can't be ruled out, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said and promised that the state won't let the "forces of terror" destroy the hard earned peace.
He has announced Rs 5 lakh for the victims of the Amritsar blast and free treatment for the injured.
Strongly condemn the bomb blast at Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar. Have asked Home Secy and @PunjabPoliceInd DGP, DGP Intelligence and DGP Law & Order to rush to the spot to investigate.- Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) November 18, 2018
I appeal to the people of Punjab to maintain peace in wake of Amritsar bomb blast. I urge them not to panic and to remain calm. We will not let the forces of terror destroy our hard earned peace.- Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) November 18, 2018
"My condolences are with the families of those who lost their lives in this incident. It is an attempt to disturb peace in Punjab. All the security agencies are on high alert and coordinating with each other to maintain peace," said Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress chief.
Delhi Chief Minister called it as a "cowardly attack". "We strongly condemn it," he tweeted. Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury said "this is a dangerous thing to happen".
A few days ago, four persons had snatched an SUV at gunpoint near Madhopur in Pathankot district. The men, who spoke in Punjabi, had booked the car from the Jammu taxi stand, police said.
Army Chief Bipin Rawat had recently warned that attempts were being made to "revive insurgency" in Punjab and had urged people to stay alert.