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Terror In The Afternoon

Monday 25 August 2003

Zaveri Bazar, Mumbadevi, Mumbai. It was almost exactly 1:00 PM, August 25, 2003 when a sudden deafening noise was heard - it turned out that a taxi laden with explosives had gone off in the first blast, the sixth since December last year with the difference that most of those occurred in buses, local trains and railway stations. The toll in the five earlier explosions: 15 dead, 117 injured. The toll this time: 45 dead already, 150 injured.

Gateway of India, Mumbai. When the second successive blast took place in the parking lot here, approximately five minutes past one, in a similarly explosive-laden taxi, the memories of March 1993 serial blasts that took a toll of 257 lives, came rushing back to the city and beyond. The intent of the timing to catch the full peak hour lunch crowd succeeded in spreading panic, confusion and plain terror. In some quarters, the timing of the reports of ASI finding ’distinctive features of a 10th century temple beneath the Babri masjid site’ during recent excavations and the blasts that followed, is being seen significantly.

Zaveri Bazar, Mumbadevi, Mumbai: After the deafening blast, onlookers, chaos, the police. It is South Mumbai’s famous jewellery market and at peak hours, most of the 45 casualities occurred here.

Zaveri Bazar: Looking for evidence. Army experts have been called to help in the probe on explosions with the possibility of RDX explosives use has not been ruled out, though police sources seem to suggest that these too were crude explosives with sharp nails and objects.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, ’We will not spare anybody responsible for this heinous act and the state machinery is fully geared for this purpose. The government is committed to overcome the conspiracy targetted to disrupt the life in the city.’

The second blast took place in the the parking lot of Gateway of India, but its impact shattered the glass panes of Taj Mahal hotel and Anushakti Bhavan, housing the office of department of Atomic Energy, located nearby.

The nation under siege? No terrorist group has taken responsibility yet, but intelligence agencies suspect Pak-based Lashkar’s involvement with logistic support from Dawood Ibrahim’s gang.

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