Panic and shock gripped the food bazaars of South Mumbai and the busy weekday market of Dadar as a series of explosions rocked the crowded locations on Wednesday evening. At Zaveri Bazar as well as Opera House, it was the peak-hour rush at the two khau gallis that became the target. Dadar Market, on any day, is a sitting duck.
From the scenes of crime to the halls of healing , ordinary citizens sidestepped glass shards and pools of blood to cart corpses, injured persons and severed body parts to hospital. Volunteers diverted traffic and gave right of way to ambulances and fire engines even as civic workers helped the police gather evidence and remove debris.
The street lights went out in the alleys of Zaveri Bazar and the rain dampened rescue efforts. Sho cked shop owners pointed to the remains of the scooter upon which the explosive had been placed.”We saw an umbrella wrapped in wires on the scooter. The vehicle did not bear a number plate and did not belong to any of the local residents,”said eye-witness Vinod Divecha. Added another volunteer, Snehal Shah, “This area is abuzz with traders and workers who park their scooters as they stop by for food.”
All hands on deck as Mumbai goes into emergency mode
Snehal Shah, a volunteer, lamented the inaction on the part of the authorities despite repeated complaints about illegal parking in the Zaveri Bazar area.
Although the jamming of mobile phone networks for two hours added to the panic, Mumbai rose to the occasion magnificently, going into emergency mode with all hands on deck. Taxi drivers allowed bystanders to pile in the dead and the injured and ferried them to hospital free of charge. Medical institutes threw open all their operating theatres and casualty wards and recalled the entire staff, including those who were off duty.
A melee erupted outside the barred gates of Harkisondas Hospital as distraught relatives and doctors tried to fight their way through crowds of anxious blood donors and onlookers. Inside, the white tiles of the casualty ward were marked with bloodied footprints. The victims’ identities slowly began to filter through. Twenty-one-year-old Pankaj Soni, who worked with his father in the family’s jewellery store at Lamington Road, was in Zaveri Bazar for some work. Onlookers say he had gone to khau galli to eat when he was trapped in the blast. His relative , Ramesh Soni, said that Pankaj was declared dead at GT Hospital.
Suparna Adhikari was waiting at KEM Hospital , Parel, for news of her father Dhananjay Adhikari. She said, “He left our home in Parel for Opera House at 3.30pm to meet a friend.” When she heard about the blast, she kept trying his phone but he didn’t answer. Her brother then found out through friends that their father was admitted to KEM.
Dharavi resident Sanjay Jadhav had been running from one hospital to another, looking for his 55-yearold mother Bhima. The woman, a fruit vendor, usually sat at the site where Wednesday’s blast occurred. “I went to the site but she wasn’t there. I have come to KEM and her name is not in the list,” Jadhav said.
There were others who survived by a stroke of fate. Rajan Mandalik was close to the blast site at Zaveri Bazar. He had walked a few metres away from the spot to attend a phone call seconds before the blast. His friend Kishan Mandal (32), however , was not as lucky. Mandal was missing till late at night, by which time his friends had checked out four hospitals. “His name is not there on either the deceased or missing persons lists,” said Mandalik. “He was sitting on a bike and was dangerously close to the blast spot. We are keeping our fingers crossed.”
List Of Victims
Sunil Raut, Shivraj Patil , Ravi Bora, Raju Yadav
Sandeep Champaklal Shah, Ali Azgar Batatawala, Tushar, Ramesh Chandra, One unknown, Sanjay Mehta, Mohd Darodia
St Georges Hospital
Sunil Kumar Jain, Bhupat Nabadia, Mohan Nair, 2 unknown
Himmatbhai Kalubhai Gudiya