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Life back to normal at blast sites

delhi Updated: Sep 21, 2008 00:03 IST
Team HT
Team HT
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Highlight Story

A week after the blasts, the

Hindustan Times

revisited the four spots and saw they hosted Delhiites in huge, freewheeling crowds. Delhi’s resilience has defeated terror, once again.

Gaffar Market

Cloth merchant Tilak Barolia said a small prayer for a few seconds at 6.10pm on Saturday and then continued with his business.

This time last Saturday he was scurrying for cover, his ears gone deaf, and a scene of mayhem unfolding before him. “Two bodies fell in front of me. There was smoke all around,” he recalled.

His is the first shop at the entrance of Gali Number 42 in Beadonpura, where the first blast ripped through lives a few feet away. “The scenes will stay with me forever,” he said and resumed attending customers.

The trademark “Chinese mobile” shops were open, the famous kulfi seller was a packed house and the hawkers, too, were back on the streets.

“Cannot help thinking about it (blasts). The present security will get lax someday and we will be vulnerable again. But that’s life,” said Dileep Kumar, candy seller for 30 years in front of Central Bank in the market.

There was heavy police presence. The khaki-clad loitered around in pairs at almost every part of the market. Doorframe metal detectors seemed to help little as thick Saturday rush filled the market by evening. “Who knows if CCTVs are working or if the police has us covered? The living will have to go on,” said Ramesh Tewari from Subhash Nagar, in Gaffar for mobile repair.

Barakhamba Road

A week after the blasts, life moves on at Barakhamba Road. The bus stop remains as crowded as ever, and the rush on the street remains. “I don’t feel scared standing at the blast spot after a week. Just because a bomb took off here a week ago, doesn’t mean it will do so today. However, my mother was afraid. She told me not to come straight home after office ends, rather than roam around, and also instructed me not to travel in an auto,” said Ram Mahajan.

The garbage bins, however, have still not been replaced.

“The frenzy after the blasts lasted only for one or two days. After that, business was running as usual,” said Rajesh, a juice-seller.

But for clothes-seller Bittoo, business just wasn’t the same. “After the blasts, people want to avoid the area, so we have suffered great losses.”

There was increased police patrolling.“We have been keeping constant vigilance,” said a police official.

GK-I M-block market

Say M block market and an image that conjures up is that of brightly lit showrooms, cacophony of sounds, youngsters hanging around, several regulars enjoying that dallop of gol gappa and shoppers lugging bags towards their car, parked at a spot after a lot of search.

Exactly one week after two blasts rattled the premier south Delhi market, the scene was no different, except for the fact that the crowd was a tad thinner.

Ritu Talwar, a regular visitor to the M block market at Greater Kailash I, said, “I am coming here almost after a month just to see. More people come here just to hang out and I find those missing today.”

Agrees Neeraj Gupta, treasurer of the Main Market Association, “The footfalls are less than the usual weekends … I can say, may be 20-25 per cent less.”

Does that mean people are afraid to come out? “No way, its shraddha time too. People shop less at this time of the year,” said Rajendra Sarda, Association president.

Post blasts there are two more CCTV cameras apart from the existing four to monitor the entry and exit points. “Soon, we are going to have female security guards too and number of more security guards,” Sarda added.

Connaught Place

Chandu (name changed), a guard at one of the gates of Central Park, now has a new job — one of disappointing couples.

The park has remained closed to the public ever since it became a terror target and all Chandu has done this week is turn away couples who had come over to spend quality time here.

“A lot of people have been enquiring about when this place will be open to public again and I don’t have an answer,” he said from the other side of the locked gate. Except for the closed gates of the park, there seemed no way of telling that Connaught Place was ripped apart by blasts a week ago, thanks to the heavy rush of Saturday crowds thronging the shops, eateries and theatres.

“How can you ignore CP? You just have to keep coming back for business and pleasure, blast or no blast,” said Prashant Pandit, in CP with friends. Security was tight around the inner circle, with constables on patrol and hawkeyed surveillance.