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Blasts fail to dampen festive spirit in Delhi

By Soni Mishra in New Delhi
Last updated on: October 30, 2005 23:11 IST
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Saturday's three serial blasts in Delhi failed to dampen the Diwali and Id festive spirit in the capital, with residents coming out in large numbers for last minute shopping in markets decked up for the occasion across the city.

Unfazed by the terrorist attacks, all major markets in the capital remained open on Sunday as usual. Shopkeepers in Sarojini Nagar and Paharganj markets, the sites of two of the three blasts, also opened their establishments amidst an uneasy calm, sending a clear message that they could not be cowed down by terrorism.

On the occasion of Dhanteras, that precedes the Festival of Lights, the usual crowd of Diwali shoppers could be seen at major markets in Delhi like Lajpat Nagar, Greater Kailash, South Extension, Dilli Haat, Karol Bagh and Madhu Vihar amidst heavy police deployment.

"Life has to go on. Just because there was a blast, we cannot stop living," said Vandana, who had come to Sarojini Nagar for her Diwali shopping.

"No doubt, the blasts have left us shocked. But we are not scared and this is not going to stop us from celebrating Diwali," said Devinder, who came to the Karol Bagh market with his wife to buy jewellery on the occasion of Dhanteras.

The police constantly made announcements over the loudspeaker at regular intervals, appealing to the people to be alert and immediately report any suspicious-looking object that they came across.

At the Sarojini Nagar Market, the worst hit in the serial blasts, shocked shopkeepers looked on as workers of the New Delhi Municipal Council cleared the debris strewn around while the police kept the area out of bounds for people.

Refusing to be cowed down by acts of terrorism, Ashok Randhawa, president, Sarojini Nagar Market Traders Association, said, "We are opening our shops. We don't want the terrorists to think that they have succeeded in scaring us."

A large number of people from nearby areas had gathered in the market, giving the police a tough time keeping them away from the location of the blast.

"Although our shops will remain open, we are not thinking in terms of doing business at the moment. No doubt, we are going to make heavy losses," Randhawa said, appealing to the Delhi government to compensate the shop-owners whose goods were damaged in the blast.

In Paharganj, where the first blast took place, many shops were open.

A large number of foreign tourists have chosen to stay on in the area. "We are not scared," Moy, an Israeli tourist, said. "We love India and will go ahead with plans to see the country. We are not going back."

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Soni Mishra in New Delhi
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