AMRITSAR, India — Indian police said on Monday that an explosion that killed six people and injured 32 in a packed cinema hall in northern India was a “terrorist” bombing.
Hundreds of people — mainly poor migrant workers — were crammed into the theater in the industrial city of Ludhiana in Punjab state to watch Sunday’s late night screening of a new Bollywood comedy.
“It was a bomb blast. It is a terror act. We are trying to find out the exact nature of explosives used,” said a senior police official on condition of anonymity.
The Home Ministry in New Delhi said it was still “too early” to draw any conclusions, but added the blast “appeared to be a terrorist attack.”
But another home ministry officer said officials were investigating a possible link between Sikh separatists and Islamic rebels.
“There are several lines of investigation. One angle being probed is whether the blast was triggered by Sikh rebels with the help of Islamic militants,” he said, adding the explosives used could have been provided by the latter.
Punjab police chief N.P.S. Aulakh told reporters in Ludhiana that he did not rule out the possibility of a Sikh rebel group, Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), being involved in Sunday’s blast. Former Punjab police chief Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, who is credited with wiping out the militant movement, however pointed a finger at another Sikh group called the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), which is known to have links with Kashmir-based Islamic rebel groups.
Both Sikh rebel groups want an independent Sikh state called Khalistan carved out of India.