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'Around me were blackened bodies'

Vijay Singh at Mumbadevi, Mumbai | August 25, 2003 18:33 IST

Kamal Tripathi owns a fruit juice stall at Mumbadevi. Today, like every other day, began for him with a visit to the Mumbadevi temple. He then opened his stall and did his daily pooja.

Nature called, and he made his way to a nearby building whose facilities he regularly used.

Suddenly, there was a loud sound. "Ek jhatka hua (There was a shudder)," he says, "aur mein gir gaya (and I fell)."

A stunned Tripathi remained on the ground. Two people who were leaving the building helped him  to his feet.

Outside the building, he could see dead people and shattered bodies.

"I was worried about the two people who work at my stall," he says. "I feel responsible for their well-being. I ran to the stall. They were not there. I kept searching for them. Around me were blackened bodies. I thought they were dead as well. But I kept searching. Thankfully, after half-an-hour, I found them. They were hurt, but not seriously."

Tripathi says there is a taxi stand in front of his stall. Normally, there are four taxis parked there. Today, there were five, with the last one parked right in front of his stall.

"I told the driver, 'Kya bhai, why are you blocking my stall?' I asked him to park somewhere else. He said he would move his taxi soon. Besides, traffic here is heavy and taxis are not parked for long. So we went together to answer Nature's call."

Tripathi did not pay much attention to the first taxi, the one that had the bomb.

Sadanand Shetty has a paan (betel leaf) shop In the building that faced the taxi stand. He was making a paan when he heard a loud sound. The shop's name plate fell, inadvertently protecting him from the worst of the blast.

Shetty jumped out of his shop. "There was smoke everywhere," he says. "I was scared. I ran. And that is how I got hurt. There was glass all over the place and it cut into the soles of my feet."

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