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 the Hindu Diwali, or
festival of lights, 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 severe burns.
have never heard anything like this before. We just ran," said laborer
Ram Saran, dazed and barely able to talk, squatting near the blackened
debris and bloody clothing close to the scene of one of bombs.
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.
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
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.
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.
are dastardly acts of terrorism aimed at the people of India. These
terrorists wish to spread a sense of fear and suspicion among our
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 Christians.
a new beginning and the triumph of good over evil for Hindus, but some
local media have already dubbed this "Black Diwali."
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
"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.
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 burned 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)