by Aditya Naga, director, NIIT, Dilsukhnagar
At about ten minutes to seven yesterday, we were starting to wrap up the day’s work. The office boys were shuffling around with cups of tea and the fourth floor of our building in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad was abuzz with the kind of good-natured hollering that descends on workplaces as the day draws to a close. Suddenly, there was a loud sound – since there is no parallel to its intensity known to me, I would say it was like the sound of a tyre going off multiplied by ten times in intensity. Another explosion followed even before we could gather our senses back and yes, the building shook.
As we rushed to the windows, clueless as to what might have happened and unsure whether it was a good idea to go out given how scary the sound was, we saw an eatery right across the few-feet wide road was ablaze.
It was the Konark Eatery that served inexpensive food to hordes of college students and office goers in the area. Several people were running around in several directions.
The idea of a bomb blast still didn’t strike us – possibly because you never see such things coming to you and Dilsukh Nagar, a middle class, not very upscale though crowded neighbourhood peopled by young students from colleges nearby and businesses catering to them, didn’t seem like a place terrorists would strike. There has never been any known case of security breach in the area, nor was it known to be particularly sensitive.
“A cylinder must have gone off in one of those eateries (Dilsukhnagar is lined with small and medium sized eateries crowded with students)…,” a colleague wondered aloud.
And even before he could finish his sentence, there was another explosion – this time right across our building as the bus stop across the road burst out in flames. The sound was deafening. A scene of utter chaos – people gesticulating wildly, running around, thick nauseating smoke, leaping flames slithering over iron rails, billboards and yes, people – seemed to have seized the everything around.
By the time the buzz in my ears had thinned out a bit, I had climbed down the stairs and walked on to the road. This was stunning – this is where I come to work everyday, at times for twelve hours, this is where I stand and take smoke breaks, have chai, make calls when the network conks inside the building. And this is exactly where I was standing now – clamping my hands over my nose against air which felt like it would burn my gut, there were people running away from the bus stop, others running towards it and some 20 bloodied bodies lying around.
All of us were trying to call ambulances suddenly and all networks seemed to have acted up together. There were some people looking confused, some people trying to drag, injured, bleeding, groaning people by their hands to the sidewalks. The rest of us tried picking up people and taking them away – by the sight of their wounds made us nervous – we couldn’t be sure as to how to hold them so that it doesn’t hurt.
After that, we were trying to keep all the students, who were out after college and thronging the eateries , inside them fearing there would be more explosions. But they were not to be taken off the roads – they were the first ones to leap into action, picking people up, calling ambulances, some of them even taking people to the nearby hospitals on their scooters and bikes.
And there was chaos all around. There were people around, but no first aid at hand. So, the people we figured were already dead had to be left on the road for the ones who were still alive and had to be taken to the hospital.
Then the police and ambulance came – there were not many of them. All they did was to shoo away the crowd and cordon the place off. My employees, who had run to medical shops to get supplies to administer first aid to the victims, were also not allowed inside the police cordon. Then the RAF came in trucks. The bomb squad came almost two hours after we had come out on the road following the second explosion.
We were still standing outside the police cordon feeling restless, when the CM came. It was late and the crowd broke out into chants, “Down with the CM, down with the CM…”
(Aditya Naga, the 34-year-old director of NIIT was present near the blast site. He spoke to Piyasree Dasgupta about his harrowing experience)