New Delhi: Four years after a series of blasts targeted the national capital’s busiest markets, the city has moved on with careless parking, erratic security drills and crowds too busy to stop and remember. But for those who survived, be it 41-year-old Khurshid or 10-year-old Aman, the memories live on - as sharp and as agonising.
The September 13, 2008 blasts in Ghaffar Market, Greater Kailash-I, Connaught Place and Barakhamba Road killed 26 people in 30 minutes, injured 133 and left many more traumatised.
The horror of the pile of mangled bodies is still fresh for Khurshid, who runs a tea shop in the busy Ghaffar Market near Karol Bagh.
It was 6.10 in the evening, he recalled, when the explosion took place. “My father and I received shrapnel injuries,” Khurshid said. He recovered but his father could not.
“My father had received critical head injuries that led to his death a few months after the incident,” he said.
“No one can fill the void. But people and the police department’s awareness can avoid the repetition of such incidents that kill someone’s family members.”
At 10, Aman doesn’t have the maturity to distil the loss into lessons for the future. He was injured when the bomb went off in the tiny M Block market of Greater Kailash-I and even four years on he lapses into silence. Talk of the explosion still frightens the Class 4 boy, who could only say he had gone to the market for shopping when the incident took place.
His father Rishabh, a businessman, said Aman received shrapnel injuries and was discharged after a few hours of treatment. “But he still shivers when the incident comes to his mind.”
Echoing Khurshid, Rishabh said security arrangements had been enhanced in the market but public and police officers continued to be careless.
Others too felt that not enough care was being taken.
According to Raj, who witnessed the Ghaffar Market blast, people have not learnt their lesson. Though security has been beefed up in the area and some CCTV cameras installed, customers flout parking rules with impunity.
“This creates confusion and chaos on the streets, which terrorists could take advantage of again,” said Raj, who owns a mobile phone shop.
“Like the government, the common man too seems to have forgotten the incident,” added Devender Luthra, who owns a jewellery shop.
He said that terrorists can easily take advantage of the crowded market to set off an explosive device.
“Even police officers do not check unclaimed vehicles properly... It appears that people do not seem to have learnt a lesson from the blast. They park their vehicles anywhere they want and this creates chaos on the streets,” Luthra said.
Randeep, a businessman in Connaught Place, said: “It is difficult to identify a terrorist in a crowd. People must cooperate with the administration to avoid such terror attacks again.”
While concerns that the guard has been lowered linger, Delhi Police officials say awareness campaigns are on.
According to Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) S.N. Srivastava, proper security arrangements have been made in all Delhi markets and other vulnerable places to avoid any acts of terror.
“Police also try to raise awareness among common people through advertisements and guidelines,” Srivastava said.
“The accused are facing trial. Fourteen people had been arrested from different places in the country. Two others, Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid, were killed in a shootout in the Batla House area on September 18, 2008, said Srivastava.