We want police bundobust, demand Mehrauli Serai residents after blastSeptember 28th, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS) On a normal Sunday, Mehrauli Serai market would have been buzzing with people and activity, especially ahead of the festival season. But this Sunday, despite a warm autumn sun shining, all shops were shut and people huddled in groups discussing the blast Saturday in which two people were killed and 16 injured.Shopkeepers of the around 200 shops in the congested Mehrauli Serai, on the outskirts of the capital, as well as residents held a dharna sit in to demand police deployment.
“Muslims and Hindus have been living in peace in the area since the past more than 60 years. There has never been any such problem. But after the blast, we want enough security in the area,” said Pawan Arora, who owns a shop in the market and was part of the sit-in.
On Saturday afternoon, two men on a motorbike dropped a polythene packet in front of an electronics shop, a boy picked it up and moments later, there was an explosion. The boy was killed and 17 injured. One of the injured died later in hospital.
“We are holding a meeting with the DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) today (Sunday) on the security aspect. We want police barricades, CCTVs (close circuit televisions), and ample police deployment in the area,” Narendra Khatri, a resident, told IANS.
“Ram Lila and Dussehra celebrations are round the corner, so is Eid. Thousands will throng the market at the time as well as come to watch the Ram Lila in the pandals (marquees). How do we shut down Ram Lila by 10 p.m. as the police are demanding?” asked Khatri.
According to another resident, if the blast had taken place in the evening, when the narrow lane between the two rows of shops is teeming with people, the toll would have been much higher. “At around 5 p.m., the area is so crowded, it is difficult to even walk. Just imagine what the impact of a blast would have been then?” said Sunil Sharma, a shopkeeper in the Punjabi-dominated area.
Pawan Arora, who organises Ram Lila celebrations every year, said: “Thousands will gather for the Ram Lila, and Dussehra. There is a huge jaloos (procession) held during Eid. Who will guarantee their safety?”
Sunil, another shopkeeper, said: “We’ll not get up from our sit-in till we get an assurance of our safety and security from the authorities.”
Some of the families of victims claimed that they were not allowed to visit their injured in the hospital. “We were chased away by the police and hospital authorities as the VIPs had come calling to see the injured. Imagine, our own people were injured and we were not allowed to see them,” said an irate woman, whose relative was being treated in hospital for splinter injuries.
The injured were taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital, about 10 km away.
At the site of the blast, in front of Anisha Store, an electronics shop, groups of people and media persons were gathered, discussing Saturday’s incident and commenting on the blood stains that were encircled with chalk markings.
Mehrauli Serai is around two km from the 12th century Qutb Minar, a must on every tourist’s itinerary. Next to the colony is the Muslim-dominated Islam Colony and in between these two lie the ancient ruins of the Jahaj Mahal, where the Phool Walon Ki Sair is held every year.
The blast Saturday was the second in exactly two weeks in the capital. On Sep 13, five blasts ripped through three markets, killing 24 people and injuring over 100.