On the evening of 21st February 2013, we were on our way to a friend’s place in Hyderabad when we started getting calls from family and friends asking if we were fine. Terror had struck Hyderabad again for the third time in the last 6 years.
We were almost at the friend’s place which was just a few kilometres from Dilsukhnagar where the twin blasts took place and already the police were clearing the roads. Soon the disconcerting sirens of several ambulances racing past the house were the only noises to be heard. Mobiles worked only intermittently over the next two hours. The National Television Channels had started their race for Target Rating Points. The local channels were showing blood, gore and severed limbs. A little sensitivity would have gone a long way. One can only imagine what mental trauma the relatives and friends of those injured or missing in the area of the blasts were undergoing.
On the positive side, social networking sites were forwarding the details of hospitals where the injured were being taken, blood donors were offering help and helpful hints like ‘Please DO NOT call people! Send sms to loved ones to confirm if they are fine. Let the phone network be free for use by emergency services! Avoid any kind of movement for a while’ were being put up by socially conscious people like the Indian Blood Donors.
However there were still many incidents of people milling around the sites of the blasts, some to help, but the majority to stare, take pictures on their cell phones and generally hampering the work of Specialists, Paramedics and the Police. In some places, vehicles were parked hap-hazard in the middle of the narrow lanes around this area, obstructing the progress of ambulances and emergency services. This kind of ‘Terror tourism’ must be avoided at all costs. Do something constructive, donate blood and keep away from areas that the beleaguered police forces are trying so hard to clear. Also to be condemned are knee-jerk reactions from Politicians calling for a Bandh the next day to protest. The best possible message to the terrorists must and should be normalcy to show that we are not running scared, that we are getting along with our lives like before.
On the way back home late that night I saw vegetable and fruit vendors wearily pushing their still laden carts back after two days of National Bandhs, only to hear of yet another State Bandh being announced the next day. Last heard was that a candle-light vigil was being planned in the vicinity of the crowded terror strike area!