Panic grips public places

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A police commando (L) speaks with a forensics expert at the site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore.─AFP
A police commando (L) speaks with a forensics expert at the site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore.─AFP
Relatives bring an injured child to the hospital in Lahore after the blast.─ AFP
Relatives bring an injured child to the hospital in Lahore after the blast.─ AFP
An injured man from the bomb blast talks on his cell phone at a local hospital in Lahore.─AP
An injured man from the bomb blast talks on his cell phone at a local hospital in Lahore.─AP

LAHORE: Abuzar, 10, was selecting a pair of shoes at a shop at Iqbal Town’s Moon Market when the bang was heard. His mother grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the shop, bundled him into a car and rushed towards home.

Abuzar had gone to the market for getting new shoes as he would be going to class V on Monday (today) when most schools are scheduled to start new academic year after spring holidays.

It was after reaching home that he realized that he had left his favorite sleepers in the shop. “Thank God! We safely reached home. I’ll buy you another one of your choice,” mother told him while switching on the TV set.

“I was terrified after hearing the bang because I had lost a cousin in the twin blasts that shook this market in 2009,” recalled the woman.

Gulshan-i-Iqbal is situated almost in the middle of two major commercial centres of Iqbal Town and the Karim Block Market was packed with customers when the blast occurred. Within 15 minutes or so, it wore a deserted look.

The favorite recreational park of people belonging to lower middle class because of its approach and the economical rate of the swings installed there for children, Gulshan-i-Iqbal is also thronged by Christian families from Kasur, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and other adjoining cities on weekends and religious occasions like Christmas and Easter.

As the news of the blast reached Jilani (Racecourse) Park, the visitors started leaving the place hap-hazardously. Several visitors initially left their vehicles in the parking lots as the administration had started switching off lights installed in the park.

Music enthusiasts and artistes at the Sufi Festival had to vacate Alhamra as the Lahore Arts Council administration cancelled the remaining performance in the wake of the blast.

Meanwhile, security at the shrine of Hazrat Madhu Lal Hussain where Mela Chiraghan was in progress was also tightened as officials of law enforcement agencies were seen discouraging visitors there.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2016