A firecracker blast in old Delhi’s Naya Bazar killed a 35-year-old man and injured four on Tuesday morning.
At least 15 establishments, including houses and shops, were affected; causing damages to walls, door and window glasses, by the blast that rocked the narrow alleys of the wholesale food grain market in Lahori Gate.
The Delhi Police ruled out the possibility of any terror link behind the blast, although they are still waiting for the final report from the forensic experts that collected samples of explosive materials from the blast site. Sleuths from Special Cell, the anti-terror wing of Delhi Police, also visited the blast scene. Their report is also awaited.
The deceased, identified as Motalip Mirza from Murshidabad in West Bengal, worked as a load-carrying labourer. Mirza lived in a rented room at Tilak Bazar in Khari Baoli, barely four hundred meters away from the blast site. The four injured were identified as Bhupendra Gupta, Mahesh, Hawa Singh, and Murari. They are undergoing treatment at Bara Hindu Rao Hospital.
A CCTV camera footage showed Mirza carrying two heavy jute bags full of crackers on his head when he tripped on a narrow road and fell because of the heavy load. The impact triggered a chemical reaction in the crackers and they exploded, killing him on the spot. Two persons present in a food grain wholesale shop outside which the explosion took place were injured, while the other two injured were standing close to the site.
SBK Singh, special commissioner of police (law and order), said, “The blast seems to have taken place due to pressure in the bags of cracker and the damage was due to its large quantity.” A case under Explosive Substance Act and culpable homicide note amounting to murder besides other relevant sections of IPC was registered at the Lahori Gate police station.
The firecrackers that caused explosion belonged to a local firecracker trader, Mukhtar Ahmad. Police learnt that the crackers were earlier stored illegally at a godown at Fatak Hawas Khana in Lahori Gate. They raided the godown and seized several such bags that were full of crackers. Mirza was carrying the two bags to Ahmad’s three licensed shops at Qutub Road, around 400 metres away from the godown.
After the blast, the locals panicked and started running away for their safety. They said that they only heard the high-intensity sound, but couldn’t figure out if it was a cylinder or a cracker blast. Some thought it was a terror attack. Resident said they were scared when the incident took place. Two shops near the blast spot were severely damaged.
“I didn’t get a chance to move away from shop. There was lot of smoke outside and we were not sure if it was a cracker blast,” said Pawan Mittal, manager of Paras Sales Corporation.
Mittal said it was unbelievable that a blast caused by crackers can cause this much damage. All the traders had closed their shops and opened only after police lifted the barricades from the spot.
Some said that the police had lied about the blast. “It was an attempt of anti-social elements to destabilise the peace in the area. Crackers don’t burst in one go and engulf an area up to 300 meters,” said Rajesh Verma, a local.