Sunday October 30, 04:46 AM|
Bombs turns festive season into tragedy
By Anirban Roy
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - As dusk fell, fairy lights came on and
the mosques filled for prayers, deadly bombs turned three of New
Delhi's festive markets into tangles of charred bodies, severed limbs
and shattered shops in minutes.
The sound was deafening, even among the cheery chaos and popping firecrackers of the peak festival season.
Many of the victims were women and children, brightly dressed
for their last big night out to shop before Diwali on Tuesday and the
Muslim Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan later in the week.
The blasts hit Sarojini Nagar and two other markets as
millions crowded into the brightly lit streets and bazaars. Officials
said more than 50 people were killed and scores injured, some suffering
"I have never heard anything like this before. We just ran,"
said labourer Ram Saran, dazed and barely able to talk, squatting near
the blackened debris and bloody clothing close to the scene of one of
"I saw a completely charred body ... they must have carried 20
bodies away," said shopkeeper Manish Saxena at Sarojini Nagar, one of
Delhi's biggest and most popular markets, where the rich rub shoulders
with servants and the poor in the crowded lanes.
"I saw injured people, women, running away from the scene,
many of them without clothes," said Bobby, a passerby at Sarojini. "I
counted 22 badly burned bodies, including children."
DASTARDLY ACTS - PM
Firecrackers, whose the noise and smoke blanket the night sky
for days leading up to Diwali, littered the ground at Sarojini, along
with smashed up fruit, torn bunting and broken glass. Acrid smoke
filled the air.
A visibly upset Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who rushed home
from an official visit to Kolkata, said the attacks had been
deliberately coordinated to create maximum fear and havoc at a special
time of year for all Indians.
"My heart grieves for those who have lost their loved ones," he said at his home, wearing his trademark light-blue turban.
"These are dastardly acts of terrorism aimed at the people of
India. These terrorists wish to spread a sense of fear and suspicion
among our peace-loving people."
For Hindus, who make up more than 80 percent of secular
India's 1 billion-plus people and the Muslims who account for more than
13 percent, this is normally the equivalent of Christmas for
Diwali marks a new beginning and the triumph of good over evil
for Hindus, but some local media have already dubbed this "Black
"There was a huge sound," said Sunita, who lives not far from
where Ram Saran sits on the ground in Paharganj, a bustling area in
central Delhi crammed with stalls, restaurants and cheap lodges filled
with foreign backpackers.
"I saw many people lying on the ground. I saw a child's arm
cut off and somebody else's brain smashed out. It was very bad. Very
bad," she added.
Parvinder Singh, searching for his brother and sister-in-law
who were on their way to Paharganj, shouted frantically into his mobile
phone as he headed for the closest hospital.
"I have seen their burnt scooter -- I don't whether they are dead or alive," he said, before running off.
(Additional reporting by Palash Kumar, Y.P. Rajesh and Shailendra Bhatnagar)