We thought we were going to die: Locals recollect the blasts that shook Hyderabad in 2013
We thought we were going to die: Locals recollect the blasts that shook Hyderabad in 2013

We thought we were going to die: Locals recollect the blasts that shook Hyderabad in 2013

A special NIA court has sentenced to death five Indian Mujahideen terrorists including Yasin Bhatkal.

"My stall used to be right next to the site. My father had died and I had gone home to Zaheerabad for a week, when it happened. When I came back, everything was different," says Chinnayya*, who mans a fruit stall opposite the Konark theatre in Dilsukhnagar.

On the evening of February 21, 2013, two bomb blasts ripped through the Rajiv Chowk street where the theatre is situated, in Hyderabad, leaving at least 18 dead and more than a hundred injured. 

Chinnayya says he was one of the lucky ones. However, not everyone can say the same.

Balraj*, a banana vendor, had his stall less than 100 metres from the spot where the first bomb exploded.

"For the first few seconds, we could not understand anything. My ears were ringing and everything slowed down. When I blinked a few times, I saw people running in all directions. Before I knew it, the second blast went off," he says.

Balraj, who suffered injuries on his right leg, says he still can't hear properly because of the blast.

"We thought we were going to die. There was so much confusion. My friend was bleeding and I grabbed him and we ran into the lane. His house was a little inside, and we just rushed in and locked the doors," another vendor chimes in.

The 'friend' in question, who refuses to be identified, is still in trauma.

"I don't want to talk about it. By God's grace I'm still alive. I want to move forward with my life and forget the past. Seeing bodies strewn across the street where you work isn't exactly a pleasant sight," he recalls.

"I saw all the dead bodies. There were even little children. I don't know if they were dead or unconscious. The people who did this must be tortured," says Balraj, as those gathered around nod their head in unison.

"What's the use of hanging them? Break their bones and make them bleed, like they did to so many people. Then they'll understand what pain is," he adds.

The blasts were triggered by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) tied to two bicycles that were placed in highly crowded areas for maximum impact.

While the first blast took place at the bus stop nearby, another took place in front of the A1 Mirchi Center, a popular snack stall in the area. 

The Mirchi Center continues to be open, although now stationed a few metres away.

"My life has not been the same since then. I still live in fear, but what can I do? I can't stop working," says Reddy*, as he looks down at the boiling oil and continues making bhajjis and samosas.

Reddy, who was injured in the blast, says he shut his shop for two months, even as he recovered from his injuries.

"It was over in an instant. The moment the first bomb went off, I felt a wave of heat. I stopped everything that I was doing. Even as people were running away, the second one went off. The memory of that day is still very blurred, as I had fainted after the second blast," he says.

Reddy says that he is still scared and constantly looks over his shoulder. But despite living in fear, he has no choice but to continue to work for his living.

On Monday, an NIA special court sentenced to death five people belonging to the Indian Mujahideen including co-founder Yasin Bhatkal. All five had been convicted by the court a week ago.

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*Names changed

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