HYDERABAD: It was a day of Jumma like any other Friday. The namaz had just ended and Shakeel, then a 27-year-old mattress maker along with hundreds of others, was offering dua at the Mecca Masjid in the Old City. An explosion rings out. Shakeel, unperturbed, continues with his dua assuming that the sound was from a tyre burst.
“After finishing the dua, when I turned around, I saw many people lying dead. There was blood everywhere,” said Shakeel, recounting the Mecca Masjid blast of 2007, which killed 16 and left hundreds injured. On Monday, 11 years after the incident, a special court for NIA cases at Nampally will deliver its judgement in connection with the case.
“At that moment, I didn’t realise what had happened. I saw such huge amount of blood for the first time that day and to think that an explosion has been triggered in a place that one comes to offer prayers was unthinkable of,” added Shakeel, a resident of Mecca Masjid camp, a small settlement behind the mosque, from where two people died in the blast.
Though Shakeel and his family were safe and have been able to somehow put the horrors behind themselves, for family members of the two dead from Mecca Masjid camp, the incident is still afresh.
Syed Hatiq, a bangle maker, was just a 18 when the blast claimed the lives of his cousin and the cousin’s elder brother’s son-in-law. The two had come down to the camp to attend the funeral of his father’s maternal uncle’s son.
Like Shakeel, Hatiq initially thought the sound of the blast was from a tyre burst, but he realised that something was awry when he saw thick black smoke coming out from the improvised explosive device (IED). “When I turned around, I saw many bodies riddled with shrapnel. I was among the few who picked up the bodies,” he added.
However, Hatiq did not know that his father, Syed Jahangir too was present in the mosque. When he finally learnt about it, his father was already in coma from the impact of the blast. “He regained consciousness after two days,” said Shakeel adding that the blast was the cause behind his father’s heart disease.
Hatiq escaped physical injuries but the trauma affected him mentally. “I had nightmares for two years straight. Whenever I closed my eyes, I used to be back at the mosque, at the time of the blast, picking up the injured and the dead,” he said However, things have returned back to normal, he said.For a 28-year-old Abid, a pillow maker, the blast changed the meaning that peace held in his hometown Hyderabad. “I have grown up in this mosque playing and chatting. We could enter and exit anytime. However, post 2007, the security has been beefed up and even during daytime, if we try and enter the mosque, guards stop us from doing so,” he said.