It was a first-of-its-kind attack in Dadar, the heart of the Mumbai’s Marathi culture and one of city’s busiest commuter hubs.At 6.55 pm on Wednesday, during peak rush hour, locals on SK Bole Marg heard a deafening blast as a bomb placed atop the Hanuman Mandir bus stop exploded.
When the smoke had cleared, the owner of a hardware store opposite saw a woman stand up with one hand blown off and scream for help, then drop to the ground unconscious.
Also injured were three people who had parked near the bus stop in a silver car, two men on motorcyles and two passersby. Dadar, a key station on the western and central railway lines, sees thousands of commuters passing through every day.
SK Bole Marg, a 10-minute walk from Dadar station, is lined with shops and hawkers, all part of the popular lower-middle-class shopping area.
“We were watching TV when we heard the bang and felt our building shake,” said Ravindra Sohani, a first-floor resident of Pandit Niwas, a three-storey building opposite the bus stop. “A crack formed in our wall and our cupboard was knocked open.”
The retired Mantralaya employee joined her neighbours at the gate of her building and saw smoke everywhere.
“A woman was lying on the road, another man was lying near her and there was a third person on the footpath,” she says. “It was the most horrific sight I have seen in 64 years.”
The police arrived within 10 minutes of the explosion, since both the Dadar and Shivaji Park police stations are nearby, but locals had already helped the two most severely injured into a taxi and taken them to KEM Hospital, Parel.
One of these was the woman with the hand blown off, 25-year-old accountant Varsha Kariya, who had been returning home from her Nariman Point office.
The other was 31-year-old carpenter Mankeshwar Vishwakarma, admitted with part of his head blown off and his brain visible. He had gone to Dadar to buy plywood.
Six others were eventually also admitted, two of whom are critical and have at least partially lost their hearing. The remaining four have suffered mainly shrapnel injuries, with one being discharged on Wednesday night.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Home minister RR Patil and police commissioner Arup Patnaik visited the scene of the blast between 8 pm and 9.30 pm, confirming the toll and the location of the bomb — a mere formality, given the shattered remains of the bus stop.
“We sometimes keep material from our shops on top the bus stop for the night,” said a local vendor, speaking anonymously. “The day of the blast there were a few tiffins among the material. We suspect that the bomb was in those tiffins.”