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After blasts, shopkeepers worry about future

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | September 02, 2003 10:41 IST

After they lost their friends and family members in the twin blasts in Mumbai, the shopkeepers of Nav Nidhan building at Zaveri Bazaar are worried about their financial stability.

The building has 32 shops, which includes commercial establishments. More than 500 people directly or indirectly depend for their survival on this building.

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"Nobody knows when this building will be repaired. The police barricaded this area and the contractors are coming and going. There is no one to tell us after a week what is the status? Whether we can operate from this place or not? There is nobody to answer these questions," Gulzar Hussain says. 

Gulzar's shop -- Ajooba Footwear -- was the nearest to the blast site. His uncle Sadiq Ahmed Zariwala and cousin Mohammad Suhail were the first to die after the blast.

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"Besides the footwear shop we have a gold embroidery shop in this building. Nearly 50 people from our family are dependant for their livelihood from this shop. If this does not reopen we won't be able to survive," Hussain says.

Kamal Kumar Tripathi, a sugarcane juice owner in front of the Nav Nirman building, is also worried about his livelihood, as he has not earned a paisa for more than a week.

"My shop is just outside this building and the taxi in which the bomb exploded was next to my shop. So the police have cordoned off my shop too. I cannot start my business. They tell me that I will have to wait till this building gets repaired. A poor man like me who lives on his daily earnings will not be able to survive if my business shuts for long," Tripathi says.

Tripathi was lucky to survive as he had gone to urinate when the blast occurred.

"I am the sole earning member of my family and I have to support my two kids and a wife. This sugarcane juice shop is the only means of my livelihood. If they don't allow me to open this shop soon then I will have to beg on the roads," Tripathi adds.

Wasiq Khan, owner of a fruit juice shop, is also worried about how he will support his four children and a wife, who is not earning.

"I never imagined that I would face such problems in life. I have partially lost my hearing capacity after hearing the deafening sound of the bomb. The government has not given me any compensation so far. There were VIP visitors next day and after that nobody has come to see us so far. Now, this shop is my only source of income. If this does not reopen soon, I will be on roads," Wasiq says.

"My brother Ajmal Khan who was seriously injured has also not got any compensation from the government. So we all are spending on the medicines and at the same time have no earnings. Moreover, I had taken a loan of Rs 400,000 to run my business. Now, I am wondering how I will survive," Wasiq adds.

Interestingly all three members had taken no insurance and are now repenting their decision.

"We never expected this to happen in our area and therefore we didn't take any insurance on our properties," Hussain says.

When contacted, the owner of the Nav Nirman building, Heerachand Zaveri said, "I am talking to the government officials about the repair of the building but I cannot say when the repair work will be completed."

Asked what is the minimum period it will take for the building to come in normal shape, Zaveri said, "The building is very old and the damage was severe. I feel if the reconstruction work goes smoothly it will take us a little more than a month to reconstruct the entire building."

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