Varanasi Reels from Bombings

March 9, 2006

Source: The New York Times

On March 9, 2006 The New York Times reported, "Modern terror... interrupted... the rhythm of daily life in this 2,500-year-old city [Varanasi, India]. A pair of homemade bombs on Tuesday evening tore through the Sankat Mochan temple and the nearby city railway station, killing at least 14 and injuring more than 100. Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday said explosives had been stuffed inside a pressure cooker and left inside an inconspicuous bag at each site. The police found a similar unexploded device at a busy city market. The bomb at the train station left a wide shallow crater at the terminal; shrapnel pockmarked the ceiling above. The police said they did not know who was responsible. The other bomb was set off at dusk in the courtyard of the Sankat Mochan temple, dedicated to the Hindu monkey deity, Hanuman, as thousands of worshipers gathered for the evening oil-lamp prayers. Tuesday is the most auspicious day at the Hanuman temple, and dozens of couples had come to be blessed in marriage. The blast forced all services to be suspended for four hours. 'For us what could be a more shattering experience?' the temple's head priest and administrator, Veer Bhadra Mishra, 68, wondered aloud on Wednesday. Hindus believe the temple compound, surrounded by woods, is Hanuman's home. Clashes between Hindus and Muslims did not come to pass, as feared, despite protest marches called by Hindu radicals and their politician allies. Varanasi, also known as Benares, was free of violence Wednesday."