Mumbai, Jul 16: Even though its largely business as usual for a few shop owners on the perky alley of Zaveri Bazaar, a sense of uncertainty and fear has gripped the traders, who have vociferously articulated the lack of adequate security in the terror-hit jewellery market.
Zaveri Bazaar became the victim of terror in 1993 when 13 serial blasts rocked the financial capital killing 257 people and injuring over 700 others.
Terror struck again in 2003, with blasts taking place at the Zaveri Bazaar and the Gateway of India, claiming 54 lives and injured over a 100. And the recent being the July 13 attack, killing seven and injuring several others there.
“Following the blasts all we can see are policemen and barricades in the area. If they were present (before the blast) the incident might have not happened. There is a constant need to patrol the area... at least a few policemen must guard the area round the clock and more CCTV cameras be put up,” Vishal Chauhan of Raksha Bullion, a shop located few steps away from the blast site, told PTI.
Another worker Raju Kariya of J S Kothari Sons and Jewelry, said: “The need of the hour is to have either a small police chowki or over dozen policemen. Its their duty to protect us. We see (policemen) them only for a few days after the attack and then they vanish.”
Having witnessed three blasts since 1993, every untoward incident gives a cold sweat to the shop owners in the area but it has not deterred them from returning to work.
“The Wednesday blasts brought back memories of two former dastardly attacks. Those who haven't been affected have to return to work. For how many days we will protest and stop work?,” asked an annoyed Chauhan.
“I have witnessed 1992 riots when the shops in the area were burnt and (subsequently) in the 1993 blasts. The area has been attacked thrice and it seems nothing is going to change much. I am used to it. We have to return to work... its business as usual,” said a nonchalant Zaki Khambati, owner of Cosmos Jewelry Tools.
Khambati was the first person to open his shop for its patrons yesterday. He thanked the rain god for less crowd on road on that ill-fated evening.
“Since it was raining that day from morning there were a few people on road otherwise more number of lives would have been affected. We were all fortunate to have survived,” Khambati said.
Besides catering to the taste-buds by serving various delicacies, the ever-crowded Zaveri Bazaar has all kinds of gems and precious stones available right from ornaments of traditional Indian designs to the latest and modern designs.
The area is also famous for photo frames, clips, tea-sets, dinnerware, toys and other luxury lifestyle articles crafted out of expensive metals.
The question that still remains unanswered is why the area is targeted again and again.
“It seems they have (terrorists) figured out that an attack in this area can inflict maximum damage, thus creating panic,” Chauhan said.
“Parking has been a problem in the area. We have our two wheelers to be parked and we cannot stop our patrons also from parking their vehicles. There should be some mechanism to check them,” said Gopal Soni, who works with J S Kothari Sons and Jewelry. PTI