23 May 2005
The Indian capital is on high alert after three blasts rocked New Delhi, killing one person and injuring nearly 50 others. Two of the explosions were in crowded movie houses that were screening a film considered offensive by some members of the minority Sikh community.
Police say the third of the three blasts came from a small device planted in a handbag. It exploded early Monday in a residential neighborhood in New Delhi, injuring one person. Authorities say it is unclear if that explosion is linked to two powerful blasts that tore through packed movie theaters within minutes of each other in West Delhi late Sunday.
Police have tightened security in the Indian capital, particularly at cinema halls, as the blasts triggered panic in the city. Both theaters where the blasts occurred were screening a controversial Hindi language film that centers around a Sikh policeman, who is on a global hunt to nab a criminal.
Some Sikh groups have objected to the film's title, "Jo Bole So Nihal," which means "Blessed is the one who says God is eternal." The groups say the title is an abuse of a phrase that should be used only in two places: in Sikh temples or on the battlefield by Sikh warriors. They also objected to some scenes showing Sikhs entering temples, without removing their shoes, which they consider to be sacrilegious.
Police have declined to say if any Sikh group is suspected of involvement in the explosions.
Meanwhile, Sikh groups have been quick to condemn the blasts. Paramjit Singh Sarna is leader of the Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, which is the highest authority of the Sikh religion in New Delhi.
Mr. Sarna says he is confident the blasts are not the work of any member of his community. "In Sikhism there is no place for terrorism, ... no pure Sikh, not any Sikh can do this type of thing," he said. "Our gurus have forbidden this, they have adopted peaceful methods."
Following objections from the Sikh groups, the film was withdrawn last week from movie houses in the Sikh majority state of Punjab, but theaters in the rest of the country continued to show it. But after the blasts in New Delhi, several cinema owners have decided to withdraw the film in the capital.
Sikhs make up about two percent of India's population, and are distinguished by the turbans they wear.