The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A war on the way we live

Hyderabad, Aug. 26: A son celebrating a medical college seat, a grandfather stopping for a bite after his evening walk, teenage daughters who dragged their mother to a snack bar.

The list of the dead reflects how last evening’s blasts intruded into typical family scenes at a fast-food restaurant and amusement park, as middle-class Hyderabad spilled onto the streets for its moderate quota of weekend pleasure.

Today, many were afraid to step out of their homes.

Police have found 19 unexploded bombs since last evening, seven of them today, at bus stops, theatres, road junctions, pedestrian bridges and near a public water tap — places the average city dweller frequents during his daily routine.

With the bombs left in plastic bags, mostly black, “black bag” has become the new symbol of terror in the city.

“This is a new terrorism we are facing — bombs fitted with timers in black plastic bags strewn around the city,” said textile merchant Ganshyam Singh Randhwa, whose brother was among the 32 killed at Gokul Chat Bhandar.

“My family is scared to let me out of home,” said Vivek Hirooni, one of the techies who come in hordes from Bangalore and Visakhapatnam to spend the weekend in Hyderabad. “I might as well have stayed put in Bangalore and spent the night in a pub.”

Yesterday, it was all very different.

“I had gone shopping with my mother and we had stopped to eat. We were lucky — we saw so many people dead,” said Pawan Aggarwal, 27, from his bed at a hospital where relatives tried to identify their dead from wallets and accessories on torn limbs.

“I didn’t even want to go to Gokul, but my friend forced me to,” said Uday Kumar, his head swathed in a thick bandage. “He was standing right behind me and we were arguing about who would pay when there was a bang. Small children have been killed — it’s just terrible.”

Seven touring engineering students from the Amrutvahini College in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, were among the 11 who died at the Lumbini Park auditorium, where two bombs exploded, sending bodies and seats flying.

Most of the deaths were caused by the metal pellets in the bombs, which flew “like bullets” after the blasts, forensic experts and doctors said.

Panic kept the Sunday crowd thin at the malls in upscale Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills, Secunderabad, Begumpet and Ameerpet. Morning shows ran before near-empty seats at the city’s 200-odd cinemas, where late-night screenings have been banned.

The worst hit were the amusement outlets and parks such as Snow World, Jala Vihar, Rock Garden, Ramoji Film City and Ocean Park.

Tame weddings

Over 3,200 weddings — and scores of housewarmings and business inaugurations — had been scheduled on the auspicious day, which apparently coincided with Lord Balaji’s marriage anniversary.

The shine was taken off them by grieving or fearful relatives and friends who chose not to turn up. Even the wedding of former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu’s son Lokesh with Brahmani, granddaughter of the late NTR, was a tame affair with many celebrity guests staying away.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam conducted a mass marriage, but without the chief minister and other star invitees. The police asked every wedding organiser to check guests’ belongings.

The police are working on a special security plan for the IT corridors, with armed guards and check-posts.

“It’s now clear that our employees are no longer safe on the streets or eating joints outside our complexes,” a senior Microsoft development centre manager at Gacchi Bowli said.

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