Worried Indians from Mumbai in Qatar began calling up their near and dear ones back home no sooner than media reports that three explosions had struck their home city killing a score of people trickled in early last evening.
The death toll in the explosions reached 17 and some 110 people were injured, some of them seriously, Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner, Subodh Kumar, told crime reporter Shoeb Habib when he spoke to him.
But Indian TV channels said at least 21 people were killed and the toll was likely to rise.
Several people hailing from Mumbai in Doha said they were unable to speak with their relatives and friends as mobile phone and land lines were disrupted, but some said they did talk to their near and dear ones and that they were safe.
The bombs struck at three places in Mumbai — Zaveri Bazar which is the gold and jewellery market, Opera House which is the centre of diamond exports, and Dadar.
While the first two areas are in South Mumbai, which is the main business district of the metropolis of two million people, Dadar is in central Mumbai and houses the headquarters of the Hindu militant outfit, Shiv Sena.
Rakesh Jain, a jeweller from Zaveri Bazar, told Habib that he was some 15 to 18 metres away from the scene of the blast.
“It was so loud and deafening that for several minutes there was total darkness and I could not see anything.”
He said he later saw at least 25 to 30 people sprawled on the ground in a pool of blood. Some of them were dead with their limbs severed and thrown away under the impact of the explosion.
The scene of the blast was close to Khau Gali, a lane famous for its food stalls which are crowded during the evenings.
The police, according to Habib, was busy trying to make sure that communal harmony is not disturbed in the aftermath of the blasts which were blamed on Islamist terrorists.
Rough estimates suggest that more than 10 percent of Mumbai’s population is Muslim and there are Muslim strongholds in South Mumbai as well as in the suburbs.
The police were specially keeping an eye on Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (an offshoot of Sena) activists in sensitive areas so they do not incite communal violence.
In Doha, prominent expatriate from Mumbai, Hassan Chowgule, said he has close relatives in Mumbai but they were not based in the areas that were targets of the blasts.
A senior official of the Indian Embassy here said, when contacted, that so far no one had contacted the mission to enquire about emergency phone numbers in Mumbai to know about the welfare of their relatives or friends.
At least one person from Mumbai here said he tried to contact his sister in Mahim, a near western suburb of Mumbai, but the phone lines were disrupted.
There were others who said they did not face any difficulties in talking to their relatives. “They are all safe by God’s grace,” said Ram Kumar who has his in-laws in Mumbai.
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