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Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Saturday, 24 April 2010 00:16 UK

Grim after-effects of India bakery blast

By Prachi Pinglay
BBC News, Pune

Damage at the German Bakery in Pune
The building still bears the scars of the attack

More than two months after the German Bakery in the Indian city of Pune was bombed, there is no sign of the bombers being caught and no sign of the business itself reopening.

The slow progress of the investigation is a source of deep frustration for Pradip Pant who works at the bakery.

"I wish this tree could speak," he says as he surveys the damage to the outside of the building.

"It knows who came and left that bag with explosives. We are waiting for some news. More importantly we are waiting for the bakery to reopen."

'Government help'

The blast at the bakery killed 17 and injured more than 50.

Professor Jaya Gadgil
Pune was such a safe city despite being close to Mumbai, we never felt that it could be a terror target
Professor Jaya Gadgil

While the rest of the city is returning to normal with institutes, theatres and malls all functioning again, the bakery has yet to be reborn.

The Kharose family - who own the business - say it could be a long time before it returns to normal.

Snehal Kharose - daughter of bakery owner Smita Kharose - is seeking to rebuild the business.

Despite her youth - she is still in college - she is conducting meetings with banks, family members, bakery staff and police officers.

"We have kept all the staffers of the bakery here," she says.

"Everyone, not just staffers but regular customers have been asking us to reopen. We want to but we haven't been able to organise the finances yet.

"We might get some government help. Without financial assistance it will be difficult to keep the staff and rebuild as there is no other income."

Strike shock

The family has been through difficult times in recent months. Her father died before the explosion and her brother has recently been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Owners of the German Bakery leave the destroyed restaurant
The restaurant was crowded when the bomb went off

"I am doing everything because I don't want my younger sister to feel the pressure," she says.

"My mother is weak, so I am handling this. I need to speak to elders in the family before I can make any decision. I hope that the bakery reopens as soon as possible."

Pune, a city just over 100km (62 miles) from Mumbai (Bombay) is known for its educational institutes and software companies.

Security has been tightened in many colleges since the blast.

Jaya Gadgil, a professor who teaches at Fergusson College, says the shock of the attack remains.

"Police as well as citizens are being careful now. Pune was such a safe city despite being close to Mumbai, we never felt that it could be a terror target."

A city which prides itself on its culture, educational heritage and its IT industry now has security checks in housing complexes, colleges, theatres and shopping malls.

Map

Monica Trivedi, a resident of the upmarket area where the bakery is located, says that the area has been turned into a fortress.

So does she feel secure?

"Terror can strike in any city of the world now. We just have to accept it as a fact of life. However, just because it happened here once does not mean Pune is an unsafe city. I still feel secure and we have to move on," she says emphatically.

College student Rucha, a friend of Anandi Dhar who died in the blast, has similar sentiments.

"We miss Anandi a lot. We had a memorial service for her. But eventually one has to get back to normal life. I am not from Pune so my parents were worried about me for me for a few days. But it is okay now."

Investigators say that the bag containing the explosives was lying in the bakery for nearly 45 minutes.

No-one noticed it until a waiter went to check it - and it exploded killing him and many others.

Ms Kharose says that each person should be responsible for their own security and that everyone will now have to take more precautions.

"If we all are watchful of our surroundings it will mean better security," she says.

"The police will of course will do their job but we cannot depend on someone else for our security all the time. We have to be careful."

Killed and injured

However, residents like Salil Nashte are asking questions of the government.

A German Bakery staff member outside the damaged building
Staff wait eagerly for the bakery to reopen

"Everyone knew this is a sensitive area with many foreigners," he says.

"If there was intelligence then the blast should have been prevented. This should not be repeated.

"We are yet to know who has done it but whoever it is should be arrested and punished. Adequate precautions should be taken when the bakery reopens."

The police have submitted a report to the government regarding the investigation and reports say that they have identified suspects.

Pradip and Krishna - originally from Nepal - have worked at the bakery for many years. Both saw their colleagues and customers get killed and injured.

These days they meet the investigators regularly because they live two floors above the bakery as they wait for it to reopen.

"To tell you the truth we will feel better only when we see the bakery functioning like before.

"Wherever we are, we will be thinking about that evening. So we'll wait till it reopens. Maybe we will move on then."



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