Wednesday, 20 March 2013

An unforgttable night

Okay, this has been on my mind for quite a while. My mind is still filled with images of February 21, when two bombs exploded in Dilsukhnagar, and I was sent to report from there. Below, what I went through.

It was a Thursday, which is the day before my weekly off. That's the day when I try to finish off work soon and leave office early as well. And on that typical day, I had finished my work by 7 pm, and was gloating that I had nothing more to do. Usually I go hang around and irritate a friend when I'm done with work. And that's what I did; but five minutes after I left my place, the colleague I was sitting beside got a message on her chat saying that there were two bomb blasts near her house.

I stood up to check the news, and I saw the entire office on its feet glaring at the TV. I went closer to see what transpired, when suddenly my boss came out and told me, 'Yunus, get ready. Go there quickly and get some human interest stories'. For a minute I couldn't even gulp down what I'd just heard. Then I quickly went to my seat, grabbed my bag and zoomed off to the blast site. I didn't even know the exact location. I just had a vague idea, and I reached the place in a little more than a half hour. Surprisingly, the heavy traffic was no obstacle for me. I really wanted to see that place.

It was pretty evident where the blast had taken place, as both the sites swelled with huge crowds; people  kept rushing in continuously to get a sight of the aftermath. I crossed the road hurriedly and  looked at the site of the first explosion. There was a huge crater where the bomb detonated.  That I noticed later, because I managed to get up into one of the shops which bore the brunt of the attack. And at that point of time, the owners were busy clearing the debris to close down the place.

The people inside were only too shocked to speak, but some of them gave me theirs names, along with a description of what they witnessed. It had been an hour already since the attack, and even till then the place had not been completely cordoned off. Even after it was done, people kept trying trespass. Now, the second site was far more chaotic as it was right on the main road. I couldn't really see what was happening with all the media and crowd in a frenzied mood.

That, plus more and more people kept pouring in. Now let me tell you this much. When there is a bomb blast, a sane person won't venture out fearing his safety, and one would expect the police to ensure that the site is at least taped off to avoid destruction of evidence. But what happened there was just idiotic. It was like the time when Akber Owaisi was arrested, and hundreds of people gathered to catch a glimpse of him. Only that this time it was something far more serious, and passers-by actually stopped to just see what was happening.

Anyway, I hung around for a while  and managed to get my stories, while the mayhem simply continued. Cops were canning those who gathered there again and again, but the public was relentless in its effort as well. While all that was going on, our beloved politicians arrived, made some rhetorical speeches and left. The worst thing was that the episode took a communal turn,with some blaming muslim leaders, because of which mob started sloganeering. Oh year, the entire time, there was continuous jeering, shouting, sloganeering etc etc. Thankfully it didn't end up in a riot.

 Before I left, I got a good look at the area. It was 10 30 pm when I left, and by then the blast sites were secured; with thin wires of plastic. Yeah, our tech savvy and super advanced police tied thin plastic ropes from pole to pole to cordon off one site, while at the other site it used red plastic barricades which it probably borrowed from near the metro works  going on. I still fail to understand why they just couldn't put the huge metal barricades they use in front of Charminar near the temple.

Not that I'm questioning the motive behind that, but this was a bomb blast, and the police had a hard time in managing the public. Their problem. So all said and done, I can say that I learned a lot that night. One thing was that the police here is incapable of handling crowds, and that the average Indian is an idiot and that he has no sense. That's my judgement and I may also be described as an idiot in someone else's view. But from what I saw that day, I don't doubt for a second that we're all just vile creatures.

And all the time I spent there, I was with another journalist friend, and we both helped each other out. We both left at the same time as well. I went back to office by 11. I was so famished that I tried to find any place where I could find something to eat. But every damn place was closed. Finally, something had deterred Hyderabadis to shut their business. So, I reached office on an empty stomach. Thankfully, the bakery near office closed late that night, and I managed to buy few pieces of cake.

After finishing my work that night, I left at 1 am. I was extremely tired, and found the atmosphere more poignant when I was told that my off was cancelled the next day. Fuck. That was the first thing in my mind. Anyway, it's been over two months now since that night, and as indifferent I have become after becoming a journalist, I'd like to confess that the following week was the best so far in my one year as a reporter. I managed to make ten by-lines in a week or so.

So, there we go. Disillusioned, and mortified, I continue to do what I do, and whenever I pass by that place, my heart sinks when I think of how the people around that place live there every single day.

to be cont

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