Twenty-year-old Mohamad Ashraf left his home and family in Anantnag, Kashmir, a few years ago to escape the constant threat of violence and to eke out a decent living. Following in the footsteps of his uncles, Ashraf arrived in Delhi — a city that promised him a life of safety and dignity.
At 6.07pm on Saturday, Ashraf saw, and heard, his dreams shattering in front of his eyes. The Gaffar Market blast claimed his maternal uncle Mohammad Qasim (25) and his other uncle Farooq (28) is battling for his life at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
“We always felt Delhi was a haven where anyone could earn at least two square meals by working hard,” he said. Along with his uncles, who had shifted to Delhi many years ago, Ashraf used to pull cycle rickshaws in the Karol Bagh area. A shell-shocked Ashraf doesn’t know if he can feel safe in the Capital anymore.
The serial blasts that ripped through Delhi’s markets mostly claimed young migrants as their victims — an artisan from Howrah, a salesman from Hardoi, a ticketing executive from Kanpur and a software professional from Baroda who was all set to join the city’s workforce.
Four of the nine blast victims brought dead to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Saturday evening were below 30 years of age. Of the total of 69 admitted, 45 were aged below 30.
Most of them were working hard to fulfil a dream of making it big in an alien city.
Amit Saxena, 26, had moved away from his hometown Kanpur a few years ago. “He came looking for employment and after doing odd jobs he was working as a travel executive in Connaught Place,” said his friend Manoj.
Twenty-five-year old Kamini was already working with Tata Consultancy Services in Baroda but had come to Delhi to take another exam. She lost her life in the blast at Central Park. And her boyfriend and would-be husband Kashyap Rawat is fighting for his life in the ICU.
Standing outside the mortuary of Lady Hardinge Hospital, waiting for his brother’s dead body to be handed over to him, Sanjay Mondal was too shocked to talk. He was a father figure to his 20-year-old younger brother Subroto, a gifted artisan who worked in a jewellery shop, and was responsible for his well being.
As Mondal’s mobile kept buzzing with calls from their family back in Howrah, West Bengal, Sanjay didn’t know what to say.
The brothers, along with many other young men who hailed from Bengal, lived in the Nabi Karim area of Sadar Bazar. The last time they saw Subroto was when he left for Gaffar Market to buy a fancy mobile for his friend. On Sunday afternoon, he was packed in a grimy, bloodstained body bag, waiting for his last journey back home.