It was business as usual on Thursday for the Reddy brothers, who owned a mirchi-bajji outlet at the busy Konark junction of Dilsukhnagar. A favourite joint of many, their shop ‘A1 Mirch Bajji’ was thronged by customers eager for bajjis seasoned with the trademark chutney prepared by Narasimha Reddy, the second of the three brothers.
Then they heard the first blast near the bus-stop. Before they could comprehend what was happening, the second one ripped through their stall, leaving a mass of mangled bodies all around. The brothers escaped with injuries, though many of their patrons were not so fortunate.
“My sons Narasimha Reddy, Bakka Reddy and Gopal Reddy came to the city two years ago to work in the shop of my nephew Panduranga Reddy. I saw the visuals in the television, and rushed to the city,” said their grief-stricken father Kishta Reddy, a resident of a small village in Medak. Panduranga Reddy was away from town on Thursday.
Their neighbour Venkateshwar Rao, 45, has only vague memories of the incident. He distinctly remembered a blast at a nearby area but could not recollect the details of the explosion that injured him and gutted his tea stall near Konark Theater in Dilsukhnagar on Thursday.
He was unable to comprehend what had happened, as his ears gave out for a few moments due to the blast impact. This experience was shared by many victims.
“I shopped in the lane for some new clothes and was returning, when the blast happened. Initially, I heard a loud thud, and did not understand what happened. I was hit in the right hand, and felt like it came off from my body. I started running,” Sudharani, another victim, recounted from her bed in Kamala Hospital.
She tried calling her friends from her mobile, but could not hear anything as the blast had temporarily impaired her hearing. She then got shopkeepers nearby to inform her friends about the incident.
Much confusion prevailed after the incident, as people ran helter-skelter, and the injured were left to fend for themselves.
“I hired an auto to get back home in Chaitanyapuri. But soon after the first blast, the auto-driver asked me to alight. The moment I got down, the second bomb went off, and a metal piece pierced my left hand,” recalled 50-year-old Kalawati Chowhan. She had to beg a motorcyclist to take her to a hospital.
Wrapping his head wound in a cotton pad obtained from a small private hospital nearby, P. Srinivas, who had been on his way to the saloon, rushed to Omni Hospitals a little away at Kothapet.
Mohd.Haji, a small-time vendor of bedcovers near the foot-over-bridge at Dilsukhnagar, called it a day at about 7 p.m., on Thursday. He was walking towards the bus-stop to take a bus to Yakutpura, when all of a sudden he was caught in a shower of shrapnel. “He was pierced deep in the hip and the neck, but out of danger. His family of wife and four kids is totally dependent on his earnings,” said his brother.
Confusion continued on Friday too, as aggrieved families tried desperately to locate their missing kin. Sooramma, a woman from Vanasthalipuram, was seen running in panic as police did not allow her near the blast site in Dilsukhnagar where her daughter-in-law Nagamani worked in a clothes store.
“My son died 12 years ago, and she was staying with her two kids in Uppuguda. I tried to trace her out after the blast, [but to no avail],” Sooramma said in tears. However, calls to the control room confirmed that nobody with the name was in the list.