Stoic Jaipur warily walks the path to normalcy

May 16th, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by admin  

By Sahil Makkar and Kavita-Bajeli Datt
Jaipur, May 16 (IANS) Ripped apart by blasts just three days ago, it seemed business as usual in the walled city Friday with people venturing out of their homes, shops and offices opening up, and devotees thronging the Hanuman temple — cautious but determined to put the images of terror behind them. ‘Terror Tuesday’, which brought life to a grinding halt in the historic area that attracts tourists, random visitors and residents to its busy bylanes, killed 61 people in a span of just 15 minutes. But on Friday, the panic had given way to resilience as curfew was lifted.

Vehicles honked impatiently, commuters and autorickshaw drivers haggled, shoppers tried to get the best bargain and many people were seen reading newspapers to find out where the investigation was heading. Life was unmistakably - but warily - returning to normal for a city that had just witnessed its first terror attack.

“We are peaceful people. It is difficult to shake our faith and our spirit,” said Sanjeev Sharma, one of the hundreds of volunteers at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital assisting the injured.

“I am leaving for office after two days of leave. As schools are closed, my children are home. It is difficult to put behind the bomb blasts. It will always be in our minds,” said 28-year-old Rajeev Sharma, who works as an executive in a private company.

At the Hanuman temple in Chandpole, which had witnessed maximum casualty in the blasts, devotees prayed for those who had lost their lives.

“I have been coming to the temple for several years and I came on Tuesday too. I had left the place half-an-hour before the blast occurred. I couldn’t come here in the past two days, but I came today to offer prayers for those who were innocent victims of terrorism,” said Rohit Rajput, a student.

Devotees were crowding in even in the first dark days that followed the blasts.

Madan Lal Sanik, 57, who sells flowers at the Hanuman temple, said he had been coming to his shop every morning as people offered their prayers before curfew was clamped at 9 a.m.

His son is in hospital but not for him the luxury of staying away.

“My son is in the hospital as he got injured in the blast. But I was coming in the morning and after the curfew was lifted in the evening to sell flowers. We have to work as this is our only source of income. What we will do without money,” Sanik said.

Laxmi Narayan, another shopkeeper, added: “It was a sad incident and we stand by the victims’ and injured families with full support. But life has to move on.

“The moment we returned to work, we felt that even bomb blasts cannot divide communities and people.”

Razakh Khan, 65, who lost three daughters and is now looking after his granddaughter, Suhana, seriously injured in the blast, echoed the feeling: “We are one and we are together in our moment of grief and tragedy. Such acts cannot divide us (Muslims and Hindus).”

While the people got back to work, investigators were in full swing.

Security agencies, especially teams from Delhi Police Special Cell, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and Uttar Pradesh Special Task were - all of which combat terrorism - were providing every assistance to the state police.

They have failed to make any arrest so far. It is learnt that teams have fanned out to apprehend four young men whose sketches were released Wednesday and Thursday.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje has also announced the creation of a Special Task Force, which will act as a counter terrorism group.

But for the survivors of Rajasthan’s worst terror attack, gathering up their shattered lives, that may be too little too late.

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