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Survivors of blast try to put their memories behind them

Staff Reporter

Shopkeepers of Sarojini Nagar and the families of those killed take part in "yagna"

PHOTO: V.V. KRISHNAN.

SOLEMN OCCASION: Kiran Saluja widow of Lal Chand Saluja, a victim of the bomb blasts in New Delhi, at a prayer meeting on the 13th day at Sarojini Nagar Market on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: Trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, the shopkeepers of Sarojini Nagar and the families of those killed in the blast on October 29 took part in a "maha yagna" on Thursday. It was organised by the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association.

"I don't remember anything of that day. I woke up in a hospital three days later with my legs and an arm burnt. I was making `chaat' at my stall, but now I don't know what to do," said Khilawan Paswan.

Repairs carried out

The black Saturday is still fresh in memory though the charred remains are hidden behind newly constructed shutters.

"The shop was repaired in eight days, but we don't want to think about what happened that day. I didn't sleep for two days because of the devastation I saw. I really want to forget it. Delhi might be returning to normality, but the things here are not," said Dheeraj, who owns a cloth shop.

Search for missing relatives

While some came with digital cameras to capture what was left, some others came searching for missing relatives.

"My brother worked in a `chaat' shop here but has been missing after the blasts. He worked here for five years. He is my only relative left," said Ram Kishore, who came here from his village in the hope of finding his youngest brother.

The `yagna,' which started at 9 a.m., was an attempt to keep alive the memory of the victims, though it will be difficult to ever forget some of them. Lal Chand, the owner of a juice stall, is one of them.

"He was a very jovial person. We really owe our lives to him. He was the one who spotted the bag containing the bomb and started running with it. If it had exploded where it was placed, many more people would have been killed," said Tej Singh, who had a stall in the market.

The `yagna,' organised on the 13th day after the blasts as per Hindu tradition, had 21 priests chanting 1.25 lakh vedic mantras.

It lasted for over three hours, and "even the shoppers who came to the market stopped over to make `ahuti' in it,'' said Ashok Randhawa, president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association.

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