Security tightened at India poll rallies
India's home ministry yesterday ordered increased security at election rallies after a string of bombs killed six people before a speech by hardline opposition leader Narendra Modi.
Seven small devices activated by remote control caused panic on Sunday when they were detonated shortly before Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), took to the stage in the eastern city of Patna.
Indian media, citing unnamed police officials, said investigators believe the blasts, which killed 6 people, could have been the work of the Indian Mujahideen, a domestic Islamist network.
Police say two people have been arrested and 13 others detained for questioning, while the federal government has deployed anti-terror forces to Patna, the capital of Bihar state, to investigate.
Sushma Swaraj, the party's leader in parliament, called the attack a "gross intelligence failure", while BJP president Rajnath Singh said extra precautions should have been taken.
Responding to the criticism, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde insisted that adequate security was provided, but his ministry later issued an advisory to India's states asking them to tighten arrangements at rallies.
Five states are going to the polls over the next six weeks in the first test of Modi's popularity since he was named as the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for general elections due before May next year.
Electoral rallies can often draw crowds of hundreds of thousands in India, but security measures are rudimentary. The Patna blasts have heightened fears that next year's elections in the world's biggest democracy could be hit by violence.