M A I N   N E W S

‘I thought it was a firecracker’
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
Shopkeepers in the bustling Paharganj market mistook the blast for firecrackers. The story was repeated in another busy market, Sarojini Nagar, where both traders as well as shoppers were led to believe that the smoke and noise were caused by firecrackers.

Shocked, people present at the blast sites could barely come to face the fact that they had just witnessed explosions that took the lives of many and left scores of others injured.

“I was thinking that noise was from firecrackers till I saw blood oozing from a man lying ahead on the road. But before we could react, the police and onlookers immediately rushed to get the injured to the hospitals,” recalled an eyewitness.

And once the realisation that it was a blast began to sink in, there was a virtual pandemonium.

“We were blinded… there was smoke and noise and fear. People were shouting for help and crying out in pain. Those trying to help the injured were doing so in an almost automated state. There was no time to even grasp what had hit us,” the eyewitness said.

While those injured in the Paharganj blast were rushed to Lady Hardinge Medical College and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, those injured in the Sarojini Nagar area were taken to AIIMS and Safdarjung. A few injured were also shifted to the Railway Hospital.

And once the news of serial blasts started trickling in, harried family members of those who work in the affected areas rushed to hospitals, including Kalavati Hospital and Sucheta Kriplani hospital that adjoin the Paharganj area.

After the initial shock subsided, it gave way to anger. “With Divali just a few days away, the markets were bursting at their seams with people finishing their festival shopping. What should have been a jubilant mood has been turned into grief,” said Santosh Singh, who accompanied the injured to the Lady Hardinge hospital.

A trader in Sarojini Nagar, where fire fighters were called in to douse flames that engulfed the market, said, “The whole market wore a festive look. The best of wares that the shopkeepers had laid on display were gutted in minutes. It is has turned out to be a black Divali for us”.



President, PM appeal to maintain calm
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
President A.P.J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today condemned the blasts in Delhi.

He appealed to the people “to maintain calm and help the agencies in the relief work”.

After being informed about the blasts upon his arrival in Kolkata from Agartala, the Prime Minister said innocent citizens were clearly the target. He has appealed to all sections of society to remain calm and extend full cooperation to the security agencies.

Prime Minister’s press adviser Sanjaya Baru said Dr Manmohan Singh was in constant touch with Delhi and might cut short his visit to West Bengal.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Chief Minister has announced ex gratia of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of the dead and Rs 50,000 to those injured.



Some clues to Delhi blasts: PM

New Delhi, October 29
Describing the serial blasts in Delhi as “dastardly acts” of terrorism aimed at the people of India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tonight said government would not allow these nefarious designs to succeed.

Cutting short his visit to West Bengal, he returned to the Capital and made a statement on the serial blasts. He said some clues had been found in connection with these blasts.

Asked by reporters if anybody has claimed responsibility for the blasts, he said, “I would not like to say anything at this stage. There are some clues... We are trying these together.”

Soon after the Prime Minister’s return, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and Home Secretary V.K. Duggal met him and briefed him on the situation. — PTI



Bomb found in bank
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
A bomb was found in a bank in the Chandni Chowk area here today. Later, it was diffused. The police asked the market association to close the entire commercial area of the locality so that search work could be made easy, sources said.

Explosive experts of the Delhi Police are also scouring other major markets of the national Capital.


Adequate security at rly stations
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
The Railway Board Chairman, Mr Joginder P. Batra, has said that passengers can travel by train fearlessly as the Railways have taken all measures to ensure their safety.

Reacting to news about panic following serials blasts in Delhi and sealing of borders adjoining the national Capital, Mr Batra said that the trains would run as scheduled. “We have already taken adequate measures in so far as Delhi is concerned in view of the festive rush. Our force deployment at all other major stations, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai has been tightened. These are Class A stations where the crowd is significant. Most of the major stations have dog squads. The Railway Protection Security Force has its own dog squad and its use is essentially based on security perception,” he said.

Mr Batra said that they have deployed an extra battalion of Railway Protection Security Force. Besides, the Central Reserve Police Force had deployed one more company, he added.



Leaders condemn blasts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
There has been widespread condemnation of series of blasts in Delhi this evening.

The Akali Dal General Secretary, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said that it was a “dastardly act, which needs total condemnation from all sides.” a proof of unity, communal harmony and peace.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP, and also a General Secretary of the Akali Dal, said that such cowardly acts were the handiwork of a few who were out to destroy social fabric of a peaceful society. He said that timing of the blasts was such that those behind it wanted to arouse strong communal passions and dampen the festivities.

Mr Umrao Singh, a former MP and Punjab Minister, also condemned the bomb blasts saying that it was “a crime against humanity and the culprits should be dealt with strongly.”



Red alert in states
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 29
The Punjab Government today sounded a red alert in the state in the wake of Delhi bomb blasts.

According to sources, special nakas have been put up at strategic places in all cities and towns and senior police officers have been asked to go the field. Night patrolling has been intensified all over the state.

A close watch is being kept at the public places, the sources added. The red alert was also sounded in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Goa and Chennai.


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