Shopkeepers in New Delhi fear that blasts could dampen festive spirits

September 14th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi , Sept 14 (ANI): Shopkeepers in the national capital fear that the coordinated blasts that rocked the city could dampen their sales during the festive season.

Shopkeepers sitting outside their shops on Sunday, overlooking deserted streets said they were worried that people might not turn up in large numbers.

It was not their lives, but livelihood that they were worried about.

It is going to be really bad for us. We are going to suffer huge losses. These bombings have taken place just ahead of the festival season and our business would be badly hurt now and it is we, the small shopkeepers who would be hurt the most. If these terrorists manage to instill fear in the minds of people, then the festival season would not be good for us, said Vishu, a shopkeeper.

The weekend was a particularly busy one ahead of Hindu and Muslim festivals.

Five bombs exploded in quick succession in crowded markets and streets on Saturday, killing 20 and injuring at least 90.

Two bombs went off in dustbins in and around Connaught Place , a shopping and dining area popular with tourists and locals in the city centre. Others exploded within minutes of each other in busy markets around the city.

Blood stains, glass shards, were the only remnants of the bloody Saturday, which reminded the people of the gory incident that shook their city.

Locals who witnessed the bombings that came after the serial blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad alleged that the authorities failed to pull up their socks.

Is it not sheer bad luck that we spend millions of rupees on installing Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) and incidentally, 70 per cent of them do not work, said Ravinder Nath Vohra, General Secretary of one of the Resident Welfare Associations (RWA).

The failure to prevent the attacks has become an embarrassment for the Congress party-led coalition government, with elections less than a year away.

While the locals were little weary of venturing out to the marketplaces on a Sunday, tourists seemed to be least affected.

Tourists were seen shopping, happy with all the attention that was being showered upon them by the literally jobless shopkeepers.

I think probably for the next few months, people would be afraid but. I don”t think terror would rock again because it doesn”t happen that people come back and bomb the same place, so I think Delhi is probably one of the safest places to be in right now, said Teddy, a tourist from the US.

Meanwhile, investigations were on to catch the culprits.

A group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) sent e-mail to television stations shortly after the first explosion, to claim the responsibility for the blasts.

Police said the Indian Mujahideen is an offshoot of the banned Students” Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), but that local Muslims appear to have been given training and backing by militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh .

The last major attack to hit the capital was in 2005, when 66 people were killed when three bombs exploded in busy markets, just ahead of the festival of Diwali.

The National Counter terrorism Centre in Washington says 3,674 people had been killed in militant attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007, a death toll second only to that in Iraq . (ANI)

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