Tense city goes home early | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Tense city goes home early

Eighteen years after it witnessed one of India’s worst communal riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai played it safe.

mumbai Updated: Oct 01, 2010 01:41 IST
HT Correspondent

Eighteen years after it witnessed one of India’s worst communal riots in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition, Mumbai played it safe.

Thursday started like any other day but by noon the tension was palpable and the city rushed home. Police teams present at mosques, temples and at other sensitive locations ensured nothing untoward happened. By afternoon, roads were empty and shops had shut.

Security forces patrolled the city. “We took special measures at Null Bazaar because it witnessed trouble before Ganeshotsav,” said Anil Kumbhare, deputy commissioner of police (zone II).

Shivaji Nagar, Govandi, Mankhurd, Deonar and Kurla, which saw some of the worst riots in 1992, were peaceful as mohalla committees helped maintain calm. “There has been no trouble,” said DS Jodgudri, senior police inspector, Shivaji Nagar police station.

Peak hours on local trains came early as people left for home in the afternoon. “There was a drop in the evening peak rush by 50 per cent,” said WR chief public relations officer, Sharat Chandrayan. The railways had posted 500 security men and sniffer dogs at stations.

The BEST ran only 60 per cent of its fleet of 4,700 buses, chairman Sanjay Potnis said. Bus windows were fitted with safety grilles and trips to sensitive areas were restricted. Some autorickshaws and taxis refused to go to areas they thought were sensitive. Unions said they expect the situation to be normal on Friday.

Attendance in government and municipal offices was between 50 and 60 per cent. Private sector organisations saw regular attendance but many closed by 2.30 pm.

Schools and colleges sent students home before 3 pm. “We had nearly 100 per cent attendance although some parents did call to ask us how the situation was,” said Suresh Nair, principal of Vivek Vidyalaya in Goregaon. The Children’s Academy group of schools did not hold classes in the afternoon, while DY Patil school at Worli sent students home at

2 pm. “We sent children home early keeping their safety in mind,” Husein Burhani, the school’s academic director, said.

College students were happy to get half the day off. “We sent students home at 2 pm to give them enough time to reach home before the verdict,” Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrews College, Bandra, said.

Theatres also saw fewer crowds.