Tow plastic bags containing some explosive substances, apparently crude firecrackers, created panic at a busy market in south Delhi's Kotla Mubarakpur area on Monday evening.
The explosives, hidden in earthen pots and tin boxes, resembled sutli (thread) bombs generally used during riots and were found near the Gurudwara market.
The police said two men in an autorickshaw were carrying the packets when a minor scuffle between some people led to a traffic jam. Storing such explosives is a punishable offence and the two men panicked and fled, leaving the packet behind, when they saw a police control room van, said a senior police officer. "These explosives are mainly used as firecrackers during weddings," he said.
The autorickshaw driver alerted the beat constable who immediately evacuated the market and the area was cordoned off. The police said 21 pieces of earthen pots containing explosives wrapped with ropes and 33 tin boxes containing powdery explosive substances were found.
The men had boarded the auto rickshaw at Bhikaji Cama Place.
"First the passenger who was in his mid-twenties got down. Few seconds later, the other man who was in his mid forties disappeared. They also left behind two plastic bags. The driver smelt a rat and took out one of the explosives. He rushed with it to the beat constable who sounded an alert and evacuated the market," said H.G.S. Dhaliwal, DCP (south).
Bomb disposal squads and sniffer dogs were rushed to the market. After two hours, the bombs were declared to be firecrackers. Sand bags were placed around the autorickshaw.
"If set on fire, they can cause damage. Maybe, the two men panicked and left the scene as storing these explosives is also a punishable offence," said Dhaliwal.
A case under Explosives Act has been registered at the Kotla Mubarakapur police station.
The Delhi Police has decided to give a reward of Rs 5,000 to the alert driver. "I have been running my shop for the past 30 years in this market. I was in my shop and someone shouted there was a bomb in the market. All of us ran for cover. We did not want any Mumbai re-run," said Virender Singh, who owns a clothes shop.