It has been more than three years since twin bomb blasts in the crowded shopping area of Dilsukhnagar killed at least 18 people on the evening of February 21.
While the rest of the city has managed to move on from this tragic day in its history, its memories still haunt the survivors and the families of the victims who died in the blast.
47-year-old Azghar Ali, a resident of Prem Nagar in Amberpet lost his eldest son, Izaz Ahmed in the tragic incident.
Azghar works as a mechanic in a shop in Narayanguda. The memories of that day are still so fresh, that it feels as if time never moved forward after that, he says.
“Like every day, we all – my wife, Izaz, Sohil (younger son) and I – had our breakfast together, before Izaz left for his college. But he did not return for dinner that day,” Azghar says.
Izaz, was studying in the first year of his Diploma in Automobile Engineering at the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Government Polytechnic near Ramoji Film City and would travel by bus from Dilsukhnagar to the college.
“It was a Thursday, I still remember. In the evening, I saw the news on a TV channel that a gas cylinder blast had been reported in the Anand Tiffin Centre. Later they showed that there were two back-to-back bomb blasts in Dilsukhnagar,” says Azghar.
“I immediately looked at the time and panicked, thinking that this was the time Izaz generally caught the bus from the Dilsukhnagar bus stand for home,” he says.
Azghar called his son several times but his number remained switched off.
Worried about his son, Azghar rushed back home to see if Izaz had returned, but he was nowhere to be found. He couldn’t sit and wait anymore, and went out in search of Izaz.
“Like a mad man, I first went to the Dilsukhnagar bus stand, and then the Yashoda Hospital in Malakpet and Omni Hospital in Kothapet to check for Izaz. There was no sign of him, not even in the death lists or the list of injured people. I even called all his friends and asked about him,” he recalls.
Finally, someone guided him to a graveyard near Osmania Hospital.
“I was scared while entering that place. A man took me to the room where 20 to 30 bodies (not all victims of the blasts) were lying on the floor, including some unclaimed bodies from the blast. And there was my son’s body lying in the pile of dead bodies,” he cries.
Since then Azghar’s life was never the same.
“We sit together to eat but nobody talks, it's like our whole life has become meaningless. I have a younger son, I guess now I am just living for him,” he says.
Izaz was just 17 when he died.
Izaz always aspired to be a soldier and was planning to apply for Army and Navy recruitment after he completed his diploma.
“He used to tell us that he would fight for the country but, see he could not even fight for his life,” he says.
Azghar and his family received compensated of Rs 6 lakh from the government, but Azghar considers the money useless.
“They cannot compensate his life with anything. I didn’t want the money, can that money return my dead son and his shattered dreams?” he asks.
He is, however, heartened to see that all five accused belonging to the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen were found guilty by a special National Investigation Agency court on December 13 this year.
“They should be given capital punishment. But before that they should be asked what they gained by taking away so many people’s lives and dreams?” he urges.
On Monday, the NIA court sentenced to death all five accused. Reacting to the sentence, Azghar says, "I don't know whether I should be happy or feel sorry for them. The government should make sure nobody should face this kind of situation ever. What did they get by doing this? I lost my son, now they will lose their life."
While the days continue to pass, says Azghar, memories of Izaz and that fateful day are never far from the surface.