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Did Monday remind you of March 12, 1993?

George Iype in Mumbai | August 26, 2003 21:36 IST
Last Updated: August 27, 2003 00:11 IST

At the St George Hospital in south Mumbai it is like revisting the city's worst hour ever -- the 1993 serial blasts.

A day after Monday's twin blasts left at least 50 people dead and over 150 injured, the putrid smell of death hangs heavy over the hospital's lobby. Friends and relatives of those killed and injured in the blast at the Gateway huddle in small groups -- strained, muted voices; tired faces.

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Over 40 people were brought here within a couple of hours after the blast. Seventeen of them did not make it -- 13 were declared dead before admission.

The numbers pale in comparison with 1993 -- the admissions then were in hundreds. The number of dead was higher too. The feeling, though, is the same -- a mix of nervous energy, anger and helplessness.

Ram Madhav, an attendant, distinctly remembers the afternoon of March 12, 1993. It was a Friday.

"Scores of dead and injured were brought here then...the situation now is similar, only the numbers this time are small," he says.

The injuries too bring back horrors of the past. Terror bombs are perhaps designed to do that.

Fruit stall owner Suleman Abdullah's body is riddled with blood marks. "I was walking along the road just outside Hotel Taj with a basket of apples when the bomb went off," he says.

"I felt as if it was all over me -- the deafening boom, the impact. I collapsed. It was as if I was hit by hundreds of stones. There was blood all over my body," Abdullah recalls. He will be in hospital for at least a week.

There are at least 25 people in the hospital to meet Abdullah. But none of them are being allowed inside as the hospital is preparing for VVIP visits -- Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi are flying in from Delhi to be with the injured and the breaved families.

Abdullah's uncle Farooq Shah is livid. "There should be a ban on VVIPs visiting injured in hospitals after disasters like these. Nobody can move around now that Advani is coming. God knows whether the government will provide us any money for Abdullah's treatment," he says.

Surendra Singh Yadav says the deafening boom still rings in his ears. "I was with my friend Guru Singh, who is a taxi driver. I was some 50 metres from the blast site I think," he says.

Vinay Kumar Dube's left hand is bandaged. He says doctors are treating him well. He has no idea how long he will have to stay here.

Yemeni tourist Fager Kadar's holiday has been turned into a nightmare. "I was with my father taking a stroll outside Hotel Taj when the bomb went off." Kadar does not remember anything after that. His father, quite miraculously, escaped unhurt.

Kadar's body is full of injuries. "They are all minor bruises," he says bravely.

"I am relieved to be alive. Terrorism is everywhere these days...there is no safe place where one can go and relax," he shrugs.

Open any newspaper of March 12, 1993 or the day after. You will surely find a Ram Madhav, a Suleman Abdullah, a Farooq Shah, a Fager Kadar on the pages. Same stories, different characters.

But on second thought, don't do it. The terror minds who designed Monday's twin bombs would want you to do exactly that -- the multiplier effect is every terrorist's fantasy.


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