Lights of red and blue flashed across the expanse of crowded people.
On a moonless night, all of them were thronging in large numbers around the police barricade that had cordoned off the site of the bomb blast. The air chocked with the compound stench of molten tar, rubber and dead bodies. The loud blare of ambulances presided over the wails of mourners and the incessant orders of Sub-Inspector Rakesh Phasate. The location was Lower Central Road; a popular commercial junction in Mumbai.
Inspector Bhajan Salve went around his job mutely, helping the constables to unload and setup more police barricades while the Assistant Inspector; Hrishikesh Pandey was coordinating with their head-quarters through the wireless. For a moment they watched the stretchers that were being hurried back into the ambulances. Some of the survivors had lost an arm. Some had lost their legs. Many were not even going to make it alive to the hospital.
Bhajan spotted the camera wielding man who broke through the police barricade. He began to click photographs fervently only to feel a sharp sting behind his ears. The photographer hit the ground with a cry and saw Bhajan force him to his feet.
“What are you? The press? News channel?” Bhajan asked in a cold calm.
“…how dare you hit me..how dare you…”
The second slap came unannounced as well.
“The area is cordoned off, sir.” Bhajan appeared calm while grabbing the photographer’s collar. He pointed to the barricades.”Look, do you see that? It means that the area has been cordoned off. Is that understood? Is that…”
The third slap gave the photographer an extensive din in his left ear.
Hrishikesh came running in from behind a police jeep. The sweltering heat and existing fires from the blast had turned his face into an oiled cake. He simply held out the wireless towards Bhajan with a deadpan expression. The crackled voice from the device was saying something like this:
“Another explosion has been reported at Dukan Road, Paral Nagar East…”