| Central Reserve Police Force personnel check for explosives at Gandhi Maidan on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar
CRPF officers with sniffer dogs at Gandhi Maidan on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Health freak Rajeev Kumar Sinha misses Gandhi Maidan every morning.
Since six low-intensity blasts on the 62acre green patch in the heart of the city during the BJP’s Hunkar Rally on Sunday, the 39-year-old resident of the Exhibition Road area has been going to Patna zoo for morning walk. Reason: the Gandhi Maidan has remained shut since the fateful day with the authorities combing it for hidden explosives.
“My morning walks have gone for a toss,” Sinha said on Thursday. “Now, I have to go to the zoo (around 3km from Exhibition Road), which is always crowded. It is strange that even after five days, the search for hidden explosives is on.”
The bank employee is not sure if he would like to return to Gandhi Maidan after it is reopened. “Even if the administration reopens the grounds, I shall think twice before walking on it,” he said.
Sinha’s fears are not misplaced. The police discovered five live bombs at the Maidan on Tuesday as well, following which the venue of the Khabardar Rally of CPI-ML (Liberation) was shifted to Miller High School grounds and finally held on Beer Chand Patel Marg.
While Sinha can afford to go elsewhere for his morning walks, others are at sea since the endless search for bombs began. The authorities, however, claim that they are taking time to ensure the Maidan is sanitised and the residents are not in harm’s way.
“The checking is being done with the sole purpose of protecting the people. On Tuesday, all the bombs found at the ground were defused or detonated. However, the administration needs to be absolutely sure that there are no more bombs. No risk can be taken,” an official with the district administration said.
|CRPF officers with sniffer dogs at Gandhi Maidan
on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar
With the ground closed, its charm and beauty seem to be lost. “The Gandhi Maidan was home to many through the day. Now, it looks deserted and dirty with cops marching all the time and scanning it with equipment. All one can see are heaps of garbage being burnt at different corners and smoke billowing out. It just looks like a funeral site,” said Avinash Kumar, who works in the Biscomaun Towers overlooking the green patch.
He added that political rallies should be banned from the Maidan.
The endless search has also cast a shadow on events scheduled to be held at the Maidan, including the education department’s Shiksha Divas programme on November 11. Officials of the department will meet senior police officers to discuss the arrangements.
“Patna Book Fair is also slated to be held at Gandhi Maidan from November 10 to 24. Education minister P.K. Shahi will meet senior police officers tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the matter,” a source said.
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