Crowds keep off terror target Central Park | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Crowds keep off terror target Central Park

delhi Updated: Sep 16, 2008 15:01 IST

The blue and green dustbins around the Central Park area of Connaught Place lie upside down, much like the lives of those affected by the serial blasts that rocked the capital last weekend.

The dustbins lie upturned as they have all been searched for bombs. The regular crowds - of picnickers, college students who like to hang around after classes and even some office-goers taking a break from work - are hard to spot in the park.

"Normally at this hour, the Central Park teems with people, especially youngsters. But now, it's a completely different story. The crowds have dipped enormously," Raj Singh, an ice-cream seller nearby, told IANS Tuesday afternoon.

Three days after that fateful Saturday evening when five blasts in the busy market areas of Karol Bagh, Greater Kailash M-Block market and the central business district of Connaught Place left 23 dead and nearly 100 injured, these spots are limping back to normal.

A hub of activity, the Central Park is one of New Delhi's old landmarks. Thrown open to the public in 2006 after a gap of four years - when the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) dug it up to build a metro station - it usually attracts big crowds.

After it was reopened, the amphitheatre at the Central Park has been the nerve centre of cultural activities. Whether it was the grand SAARC music festival late last year which attracted thousands of people for days altogether or other dance and music concerts - all free of cost - the park has become symbolic of festivities.

But a pall of fear now hangs over the area after Saturday's incident, when a bomb kept in a dustbin along a path at a corner of the Central Park went off.

On Monday evening, despite a shower that had made the weather perfect for a walk in the open, Connaught Place (CP) wore a deserted look.

"I have never seen CP or the Central Park so empty at this hour," said Savita Kumar, an employee of an ICICI Bank branch in the area.

"Generally you have to push your way through the Regal Cinema area at 7 p.m. but today it was just so empty. There were more cops stationed there than regular people, which, ironically, made me feel more insecure," she said.

Ashima Jain, a mother of two, however, said she had deliberately brought her children to Connaught Place for lunch Tuesday.

"Saturday's incident has left everyone scarred and scared. Especially the kids. There is always a lurking fear that something bad could happen to your loved ones, but you need to understand that life has to go on and by discouraging children from going out, you are just increasing their fear.

"Therefore, I decided to bring my children for lunch today. It's not just for them. This is an attempt for me too to overcome my fear and learn to live with the fact that life in the city is unpredictable," Jain smiled.

In Jain's words lie a simple truth - that the city will bounce back to life. But for now, it's a slow limp.