Asia-Pacific

India

Mumbai Back on Track After Devastating Blasts

Indian forensic experts collect samples from a damaged coach at the site of a bomb blast in Mumbai. (Photo: Prakash Singh / AFP-Getty Images)

India's bruised but brave financial and entertainment capital was literally back on its tracks Wednesday, a little more than 15 hours after a series of bomb blasts ripped through its suburban trains and stations.

Schools, colleges and businesses were operating as normal. The Bombay Stock Exchange, which reflects India's economic strength, was busy as usual although the brokers were a bit subdued in their bids after the opening bell.

The seven devastating high-intensity terror bomb attacks Tuesday killed more than 170 people and injured over 500.

But as the Indian Express newspaper said: "It will take more than seven deadly bombs to snuff out this invincible city." A view shared across the world as this teeming city of dreams, to which millions of Indians flock each year, was back on its feet and running.

The suburban trains are the lifeline of this city and carry thousands of commuters each day. The middleclass and ordinary citizens were the target of the attacks on Tuesday.

The city was just limping back to normalcy after a week of natural and manmade incidents that saw monsoon rains flooding many areas and a political standoff that resulted in a series of strikes, when the terrorists struck.

This is the second time in the past 16 years that Mumbai has been the target of a major terrorist attack. The last major blast occurred in 1993 when over 250 people were killed and many injured. This occurred soon after Hindu zealots razed the 18th century Babri Mosque at Ayodhya in central India in December 1992.

Leading the way in demonstrating its unparalleled fighting spirit was the staff of Indian Railways who set right the destroyed tracks overnight.

"If we start hiding and escaping from these terror activities then we will have time only for that," said an ad agency professional who was on way to work as usual.

"Let's just get back to work and show these guys what stuff we are made of."

Shops and business establishments were open, although there was a tinge of nervousness and shock in the air.

As this bomb-hit city literally rose like a phoenix to bring succour to the injured and stranded, the recent Readers' Digest survey that ranked Mumbai as the "rudest city" in the world looked totally out of place.

When a string of bombs went off, there was initial fear and panic. But soon this was replaced by ordinary people turning into good Samaritans to help the injured by carrying them to the nearest hospitals.

Soup kitchens sprang up out of nowhere in various parts of the sprawling city and its suburbs, with people living in nearby residential colonies offering free piping hot tea, food, and water to the stranded who were making their way back home from work on foot as the public transport system took time to get into action.

It was the much-reviled slum dwellers living near the railway track who were the first to rush toward the trains ripped apart in the blasts.

Braving burning debris, they pulled out survivors, made makeshift stretchers out of bed sheets to rush them to medical help. Off-duty doctors and medical students worked through the night to attend to the injured in various hospitals.

Taxi drivers plying along the disaster areas asked their passengers to get off so they could take the injured to the hospitals. On roads chock-full of people, strangers were seen giving lifts to strangers. Outside many hospitals and blood banks, people were seen lining up to donate blood for the injured.

When telephone and mobile communications were jammed with the traffic from anxious relatives across the globe asking about the welfare of their friends and relatives, television stations began displaying message boards with SMS services.

"Are you safe? Please call me ASAP," said a worried mother. "Stay put in office. Don't travel," said a friend. "Tried reaching you but could not. Call me on …," lamented a concerned father.

Residents of Mumbai also used the service to inform their kith and kin about their safety. "I am safe and at home," said one of the messages. Another one said, "Don't worry, I have got back home safely."

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for M.G. Srinath.

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