Mumbai resilient after attacks
Locals banded together to help victims in the wake of Tuesday's deadly bomb blast.
MUMBAI — Barely 16 hours after Tuesday's bomb attacks on seven trains killed more than 160 people in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), 37-year-old Sayyad Tyrewalla was ready to brave a crowded train ride to his factory, one hour away.
For this local carpenter, the recent serial blasts whipped up sour memories of March 12, 1993. That was when 13 bombs ripped through some of the city's most crowded places – including India's financial nerve center, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) – killing over 250 people. "That was Black Friday," he says, remembering the ill-fated day the blasts occurred.
Although he hadn't suffered any personal losses in those attacks, he panicked, leaving his work in Bombay to move to his native town, Ghaziabad, which he felt would be less vulnerable to terrorist strikes.
"But not this time," he smiles.
Mr. Tyrewalla returned to Mumbai a few years later, realizing he had played into the hands of terrorists. "They (the terrorists) want to scare us. Why let them?" he says.
Although Tuesday's bomb attacks were the most lethal Mumbai has seen in several years, the BSE remained open Wednesday, and the stock market even rose 3 percent.
The financial capital of India has been prone to terrorist strikes in the past. Until now, the March 1993 bombings may be the most memorable. But attacks at a railway station in March 2003, in a crowded bus in June that year, and at a crowded market and the Gateway of India monument in August 2003 killed hundreds of innocent civilians in the city.
Six million of Mumbai's 16 million people are believed to commute on Mumbai 's local trains every day. The attack at rush hour Tuesday is seen as being aimed to inflict maximum loss of life.
But even as Mumbai's civilians find themselves vulnerable, the city's resilience to fight back at this time of crisis has been commended by many across the country.
"We're in it together," says Shabana Azmi, a famous Bollywood actress and social worker who came to donate blood at a local hospital where nearly 100 wounded were taken after the blasts. Within hours of the attack, hospital administrators say hundreds of citizens voluntarily approached them to donate blood.
On a bridge overlooking Matunga railway station in Mumbai – where a train carriage was ripped and distorted by a bomb attack Tuesday – curious onlookers gazed at an isolated seat cushion, thrown many feet away due to the intensity of the bomb attack. One of them, Mujibur Rahman, is stunned at the terrorists' intensity of hate to propagate such fear. This taxi driver, locals say, ferried dozens of stranded people on the roads home, when the public train system stopped operating after the attacks.
"It doesn't matter if you're Hindu or Muslim here," he says, referring to Mumbai, which sees a regular influx of migrants from different parts of India, giving it a multicultural identity. "We're in it together."
And just a few hours into the attacks, countless good Samaritans spilled into the streets distributing water and food items to those stranded on roads after public transport in the city collapsed.
Since the attacks, there have been many in the city going from one hospital to another, painfully searching for their missing relatives. Within hours of the attack, a group of about 30 Mumbai-based bloggers got together to begin collecting information online to assist those in India and abroad to get information about them through their blog, www.mumbaihelp.blogspot.com.
Although police were visible on station platforms a day after the blasts, regular travelers say they are planning to demand a better security apparatus for Mumbai's local trains.
"People might be shaken up for a day or two," Mr. Tyrewalla says, boarding a train to work. "But Mumbai, our city, never stops."