“Death is very beautiful,” is what Anandi Dhar, 19, once said at a college discussion. On Saturday, it embraced not just her but also her 24-year-old brother, Ankik, and his friend Shilpa Goenka (23), as it came calling in one of its most brutal forms.
The three were among those killed at the blast that ripped through the German Bakery at Koregaon Park here on Saturday. All the three hailed from Kolkata.
Anandi was a first-year student at the city’s Ferguson College. Ankik, who had passed out from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, was employed in a firm in Mumbai. Ankik and Shilpa had come over to Pune to celebrate his professional success with his sister. However, their celebrations were short-lived at the bakery.
One of Anandi’s friends, who had come to the Sassoon Hospital where her body lay in the morgue, believed that the blast targeted the youth, and not just foreigners. Six out of the nine people who died in the blast were under 30.
Another of Anandi’s friends, Aindrila De, had known her since nursery over a period of more than 14 years. “She was very sincere, cheerful and clever,” she said. “I myself was supposed to have dinner at the German Bakery after a concert by Parikrama [an Indian rock music band] at Raga Lawns in Koregaon Park. I nearly missed death.”
The person who saw death the closest was Gokul Nepali, a 30-year-old waiter at the bakery. While the events leading to the blast are yet to be officially explained, it is believed that Nepali tried to open an abandoned bag that contained the explosive, leading to the blast.
Rushabh Agarwal, a 25-year-old from Lucknow studying at the Symbiosis Law School, gave a first-hand account of what happened at the bakery from a stretcher while being carried for treatment at Sassoon Hospital.
Were paying the bill
Rushabh had gone there with four other friends. Two of them went to pay the bill in the inner quarter. That was when and where the blast occurred. The two are critical, while Rushabh and two other friends who were near the entrance sustained injuries.
The kitchen and its bill counter are in a walled space. The dining area spreads in an ‘L’ shape outside, spilling out onto the pavement under a sloping roof. “I survived because the explosion took place inside,” said Rushabh, who suffered a black-out in the impact.
The black-out was permanent for P. Sindhuri from Bangalore and Binita Gadani from Mumbai, both employees at Amdocs in Magarpatta City at Hadapsar. Another victim was Shankar Nathu Pansare, 46, an autorickshaw driver who was in the vicinity looking for customers.
Frequented by foreigners
The bakery, though, was most loyally frequented by foreigners visiting the Osho International Meditation Resort, hardly 200 yards away. Their flowing maroon robes lent colour to the place with wooden benches and cane mats, a throwback to Goa. One such foreigner who happened to be in the bakery at the wrong time was Italian Nadia Macerini, 37. Her body was identified only a day after the explosion.
The other foreign national identified on Sunday was Iranian Saied Abdulkhani, 26, who was studying literature at the Symbiosis College for the last six months.
Through Sunday, relatives queued up outside various hospitals in the city. Six of the 16 patients admitted to Jehangir Hospital were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “Those in the ICU are very critical with over 60 per cent burns,” said a doctor. “Their internal organs were torn by the explosion and they have suffered tremendous blood loss. They have survived this long only because they were picked up within five minutes of the explosion. But the number of casualties is sure to go up.”
At the Inlaks Budhrani Hospital, the closest to the bakery, eight of the 12 injured are in the ICU, while at the Ruby Hall Clinic, one of the three injured is under intensive care.
Two other injured are under treatment at the Surya Hospital.