The blast in front of their shops in Karol Bagh has made their faiths stronger in the Peeple tree that stands tall outside their shops. For the shopkeepers’ of Karol Bagh’s Beadon Pura, who witnessed a close shave with death, when a high intensity bomb exploded on the evening of September 13, 2008, the century-old tree, which also has religious relevance, has become a symbol of survival.
“The tree saved our lives. It became a barrier between us and the explosion. The auto with the bomb was parked on the other side of the tree,” said Somdutt (64), who was just 10m away from the blast site.
Even after three years, the fear of blast is visible in the eyes of shopkeepers. “I was attending a customer. Suddenly, there was an explosion. It was so strong that she (the customer) died of heart attack,” said Ashok Gurnani, 60, who also suffered minor injuries in the blast.
Twenty-five people lost their lives in the incident.
Gurnani, a resident of Lajpat Nagar, now keeps his son’s phone number on speed dial. “If there’s another blast, I can inform my family immediately. Even after three years, I can’t sleep properly. The memory of blast is still very fresh,” he said.
A memorial service was organised on Tuesday morning in Karol Bagh to remember the people who lost their lives in the blast. The shopkeepers of Karol Bagh are tired of narrating the same story to media who throng outside their shops on September 13 every year. “I don’t see anything changing. The market is still the same. We are waiting for another one (blast),” said Somdutt.