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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Delhi police hunt cinema bombers
Damage to the Liberty cinema in Delhi, India
The cinema blasts occurred within minutes of each other
Police in the Indian capital, Delhi, are on alert after two bomb attacks on cinemas showing a film considered offensive by some Sikhs.

One person died in Sunday's attacks and at least 49 others were injured.

No group has said it planted the bombs. A leading Sikh body which said the film denigrates the Sikh faith has condemned the attacks.

As police sought the bombers, there was a third blast on Monday. Police did not think it was linked to the other two.

The latest blast occurred when a man opened an abandoned handbag near a railway crossing in eastern Delhi, police said. He was taken to hospital with face and arm injuries.

Cinemas shut

Officials say they do not know who was behind Sunday's attacks.

No sane theatre owner will want to risk the lives of people
Shashank Raizada
Owner, Delite cinema

"The city is still in a state of high alert. It is too early to say who is responsible," Delhi police spokesman Ravi Pawar told Reuters news agency.

The twin blasts in the city's western Karol Bagh district occurred within minutes of each other, causing panic among hundreds of cinema goers.

Eyewitness accounts describe one explosion tearing through the toilets of the Satyam cinema hall.

The second blast was suspected to be under the front seats near the screen at the nearby Liberty cinema.

Authorities began to shut all cinema halls across the city following the blasts.

"The injuries to the people are not life threatening, and they are out of danger," India's Home Minister Shivraj Patil said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a Sikh, visited survivors in hospital early on Monday.

About half of the 20 cinemas in India's entertainment capital, Mumbai (Bombay), which were showing the film have stopped doing so for the time being.

In Delhi, one large multiplex chain said all screenings of the film had stopped. The two cinemas showing the film in Hyderabad withdrew it. In Calcutta, screenings were going ahead with tight security.

Battle cry

The film, Jo Bole So Nihaal, was withdrawn from theatres across the largely Sikh state of Punjab last week, following protests.

It was showing for the first time in Delhi at the weekend.

Some Sikh groups say the film denigrates their religion by using a Sikh religious chant, Jo Bole So Nihaal, which is used in battle or in prayer.

The powerful body which administers historic Sikh shrines, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), has led calls for the film to be withdrawn.

Its president, Bibi Jagir Kaur, condemned the attacks in Delhi, saying they had been carried out by nefarious elements seeking to malign the Sikh community.

But Ms Kaur, who had called for a world-wide ban on the film, blamed the government for failing to take timely action to stop the screening of the film.

In December 2004, a play which led to violent protests among the Sikh community in Birmingham, UK, had its run cancelled by the city's Repertory Theatre.


Did you witness the blasts in Delhi? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

It appears from your report that the film is perceived by many Sikhs as being disrestectful of their religion and prominent community leaders previously called for a world-wide ban of the film. As an urdent supporter of artistic freedom although I strongly disapprove of violence in such matters I would urge the film makers to show responsibilty not to offend the practoitioners of any faith.
Riaz Ahmed, St Albans, Herts, UK

To Raj Chatha, England One person is dead officially from the blast. Will you have the same opinion if that person were your friend/relative?
Annonymous, USA

Sikhs are as much a victim of this crime as the non-Sikhs. Both the cinemas are located in areas where a lot of Sikhs reside. People should keep this in mind and keep things in perspective before reacting violently. Hopefully we have all learnt from the riots of 84 and Gujarat and do not need any more blood baths in the name of religion.
Jaswinder, Boston, USA

I think this clearly demonstrates that the violent elements in every culture represent a global danger because they act as they do regardless of the tolerance and justice the religion underlying it heralds as truth.
Dave, Boston, MA

I strongly condemn the acts of the millitants who did such a shameful act.. I am sure its not done by any true Sikh.. its definitely a nefarious activity of some anti-social elements who do not belong to any religion.
Prateek Sharma, Jalandhar, Punjab

I wonder what fault it was of the person who died. Sikhs should realize that the bomb blast would probably denegrate their faith more than the movie ever could. They should distance themselves from this action strongly. The Indian government has to make sure that riots, like that after Indira Gandhi's death, do not ensue. Wanton killings on Delhi's streets of a paritcular community isn't acceptable.
Kunal Shenoy, San Jose, USA

The Sikhs have been a peacefull and progressive community in India for many years. Terrorists have taken this oppertunity to defame them. Sikhism is a tolerant religion and they would not resort to such activites as this would bring memories of the problems in the 80's in people's minds.
Ramesh Sharma, New York

The feelings of Sikhs might have been hurt, but the situation should have been dealt with law. If the culprits are proved to be Sikhs, this could lead to the events happend during post Indira assasination.
Atri, Hyderabad,India

The Sikhs warned all parties involved to change the name of the film or not to screen it but it all fell on deaf ears, no one took much notice. The Sikhs had no choice but to take this measure for sake of Sikhism.
Raj Chatha, England

Though I was not a witness to the blast,my brother and I were at a multiplex which was screening 'Jo Bole So Nihal', and we had the tickets for 'Star Wars Ep. III'.There was a little panic at the multiplex and you could see nearly everyone speaking on their cell phones. Even I received a call from my parents who are in the Middle East telling us to go home immediately.Subsequently all the shows were cancelled and our money refunded. On our way home we could see police barricades at strategic points where 'suspicious' characters were being halted and interrogated.
Mohsin Arabi, New Delhi, India

This is another opportunity for someone to easily blemish the name of the Sikhs. Lately the majority law abiding Sikhs have become an easy target and after Birmingham this will just add fuel to the fire to people who have a glance view on the subject. Every Sikh will condemn what happened as it will probably turn out that this outrage was not done by Sikhs but by non Sikh parties of a malign purpose.
Manjit Rekhi, Gravesend, UK

I wonder when will they stop singers like Jazzy B, sukhbinder, Mika, Daler from showing half naked ladies in Punjabi songs. I thought my religion is most youngest and modern religion of the world. I was expecting it to be full of tolerance and flexibility. Shame on such incidences. Whether Sikhs have blasted or not but why to oppose such things. Tolerance is the preacher of the religion.
Harpreet Singh, Edinburgh UK

Terrorists just want an excuse to destabilise the country. They could be anybody, not necessarily Sikh militants. Otherwise why would anyone want to kill people just for some controversial movie?
Yogesh, Harrow

It's just a movie title...it's silly that some idiots are using that as a pretext to carry out such dastardly acts...
Sunder, Burlington, Vermont

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BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the scene of the bomb blasts




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Delhi cinema blasts
23 May 05 |  In Pictures
One killed in India cinema blasts
22 May 05 |  South Asia
Theatre stormed in Sikh protest
19 Dec 04 |  West Midlands
Theatre ends play in Sikh protest
20 Dec 04 |  West Midlands


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