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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 15:18 GMT
Blast casts shadow over Delhi

By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Delhi

A woman cries holding a picture of her missing son Michael
A woman cries holding a picture of her missing son Michael

A day after the deadly blasts in Delhi, people are still trying to come to terms with what are being described as the worst attacks in the Indian capital.

Throughout Sunday, most of the residents of this bustling city of 14 million pored over newspapers and reports, trying to make sense of the violence.

"This was one of the softest targets - middle class shoppers in the busy markets. Why? Why were we targeted?" asks Arun, who works at a call centre.

The scene of action has now shifted to the city's major hospitals, where many anxious relatives are still trying to locate missing relatives.

Worry writ large on their faces, they urgently scan the lists of blast victims.

Many of them turn away, having failed to locate their loved ones.

Why should we be afraid? That would just give in to the terrorists
Paresh Sharma, student

They will move on to other hospitals and begin the search all over again.

For those who find out, it is a shock too hard to bear.

In Delhi's government-run Safdarjung hospital, one old lady has just found out that her son and daughter-in-law died in the Sarojini Nagar market blast.

Overcome with grief, she starts beating her head.

"What will I tell my grandchild?" she wails.

"How can I break the news that her parents are no longer alive?"

Defiant

Across the city, the markets have opened but the flow of people is considerably lower.

In Connaught Place, one of Delhi's oldest shopping districts and close to the site of the first blast in Paharganj, shoppers jostle with extra security men.

Heavily-armed riot police, in distinctive blue uniforms and flak jackets, keep a close watch.

Shop owners say business is already being affected.

Dhruv Shankar is the owner of one of the oldest music shops in Connaught Place.

Street cafe
Some shops are open but business has been hit

"In one word, business has been absolutely dismal.

"People are afraid. No-one knows when the next attack is taking place," he says.

This is one of the busiest times of the year, when Indians of all faiths are out shopping and celebrating ahead of two major religious festivals - Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and Eid, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The markets are still gaily decorated but the mood is distinctly glum.

Ankita, an office worker, says she's come out to test the waters but is nervous.

"I am a bit afraid. I had to come to work, otherwise I may have stayed at home."

But many, like college student Paresh Sharma, say they refuse to be intimidated.

"Why should we be afraid? That would just give in to the terrorists.

"Attacks such as these take place everywhere. Life has to go on."

Hunt

But across in Paharganj the mood is markedly different.

The blast site is cordoned off with yellow police ticker tape.

Having escaped with my life, I don't think it's right that I should leave
Cas, tourist

In the distance, investigators and special dog squads are examining the remains, hoping to unearth some leads.

Onlookers watch the proceedings.

Paharganj is a crowded neighbourhood of narrow lanes filled with cheap guesthouses and hotels popular with Western backpackers, many of them travelling to India on their gap year.

Some of them were caught up in the attack and say they plan to leave.

But others feel they want to stay on.

Cas is from Scotland and is on his third visit to India.

He was stepping out of his hotel at the time of the blast but managed to duck inside.

"I've been very, very saddened by this event," he says.

"But having escaped with my life, I don't think it's right that I should leave. That would be giving in."




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See blast aftermath footage



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