Sunday, February 25, 2018
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diwali approaching

Diwali festival is round the corner. In this connection I would like ro alert the administration against the deadly practice of several families in the interior of the city to manufacture crackers illegally. This largely goes unnoticed until a terrible blast rocks the area claiming a few casualties.

The local police should be in the know of the suspicious areas where this illegal production is conducted. Then the administration will also have to keep an eye on the incoming trains and buses as these could be carrying highly explosive crackers of the banned variety. You get an idea of it when there is a deafening blast in the neighbourhood. But no one notices this as all are in a festive mood. The smoke that emits from the crackers pollutes the environment which becomes unbearable for those with breathing trouble. Some wagging tongues say that a few doctors encourage the manufacture of these illegal crackers as the more they foul the atmosphere the more will fall ill and rush to their clinics. I don’t believe this. But anything can happen these days.

diwali bomb

 Diwali without crackers is unimaginable just as it is unimaginable without sweets. That is why one will soon find maximum crowds in shops dealing with sweets and crackers. Bad weather hardly matters.  Crackers it seems are kept in weather-proof atmosphere. Like all other things crackers  are going to be very expensive too. Yet the sales are going to be brisk.   The roadside sellers who are least bothered if their goods were to turn out to be non-starters because they wouldn’t be here the next day to face the wrath of the customers.

 Every year police warns people against blasting  high- decibel crackers. But  these warnings  are flouted if not blasted by the  era-drum-tearing crackers. And on Diwali night when the blasts will start in full fury,  their deafening sound  will go on at an unending pace. In my childhood days we used to have red ‘larris’ -small crackers stringed together. One could pluck a cracker from the lot and blast it separately or just put the flame at a sprouting thread and then throw away the cluster. It would blast one after another continuously. The sound was not high and the tiny  crackers were not harmful. Then these ‘larris’, which originally had thin crackers of an inch’s length stringed together,  gained in size. Even then they were not dangerous. Often mischievous elements would tie this cluster  to the shirt of an ice-cream vendor and light it. The way he used to run about in panic created a thrilling scene for the onlookers except the victim. But last year one night, I found that cracker bombs of powerful sound and rather lethal looks were clustered together. If even one such cracker is fired independently the sound it produces is that of a cannon.  I would not be exaggerating if I say, ‘Cannon to my right, cannon to my left, volleyed and thundered’ . Imagine what would happen when a cluster of such bombs would go off together. But this is what one usually experiences on Divali night.  Last year I remember It was past 10. I had gone off to sleep when this frighteningly deadly sound, coming from  unending firing of cluster bombs, scared me. It was so loud, and continuously loud for quite some time, that I almost thought I would get a heart attack. And the smoke it left. An asthma patient would have fallen seriously ill inhaling that smoke which flew into the rooms in the neighborhood.  Then came a second attack of the cluster bombs stringed together. I thought the buildings in the neighborhood would come down, so loud was the sound of the blasts..These crackers must be of the banned variety. From where did they come ?

BANNED VARIETY:During the British days we had soda water bottles which were decorative in looks and  had a marble inside. After the bottle was filled with soda water these marbles used to tightly block the opening passage. If  you wanted to open the soda or lemon bottle, you had to  cap it with an opener which had a jutting portion. Then the cap used to be hit with the hand, the jutting portion would hit the marble. It would go down and the soda water would  gush out with a nice foam. But during the pre-independence era,  the rioters would fill the bottle with acid and other explosive material. All that had to be done was to strongly hurl the bottle at your target. It had a bombarding impact. The British banned it and after independence these bottles disappeared. They were made of thick glass and hence on explosion they made a deadly sound .The splinters were sharp and dangerous when the bottle burst into bits and would hit passersby with tremendous force, injuring them grievously.

HAND BOMBS:Then there used to be another variety, the hitting variety. These crackers would be of a size only a little smaller than that of  a ping-pong ball. They would be stuffed with explosive material. The mini table-tennis ball  used to be solid and heavy. To blast this one had to run fast like Milkha Singh and then hurl it with full force at a wall  considerable distance away. This ball would then blast with a very loud sound. May be they were a crude form of the present hand-grenades, not as powerful or lethal as the latter but fairly damaging. The British banned these too as these cracker balls were also extensively used, mainly by anti-social elements. The rioters found them most handy.

Today those dangerous variety might not be there. All that we witness is hollow sound and fury that ends up in smoke. But the threat is not from these crackers. The apprehension is that if an actual bomb blast takes place during Divali, it could initially be taken as a sound of a very loud cracker--  till casualties are discovered. Bombs in the garb of crackers could be blasted by terrorists without being discovered.  

DOGS SCARED:By the way, you must have noticed dogs running about in panic on hearing the blasting sounds of crackers. Those who have dogs as pets must have  had a trying time in keeping  them under control. In such a frightened state of the mind they could even bite a visitor. Some dog owners shut them in a room when ever guests came.


Don’ take ‘prasad’ from strangers

Diwali is the time when innocent people, the simpletons from the rural areas visiting the city to see lights, can be duped with poisonous ‘Prasad’. But even the most alert among us may be taken in by the crooks on festive occasions. It happened once.An old couple running a general merchants shop in Allahabad  was duped by ‘Zeher Khuranas’ who gave them ‘Laddus’ (mixed with poison)in the form of Prasad which they unsuspectingly took They became unconscious. The crooks took away all the cash and also goods worth thousands of rupees displayed in the shop. That was a unique way of duping the people. How many others they fooled like that one cannot say. But apparently realizing that they have overplayed their ‘train’ card they  tried the ‘Prasad’ trick. If this is how people will be cheated in the name of God, a time may come when people will stop taking Prasad even from friends, to say nothing of strangers. As one of the alert persons I know said, ‘Take all the Prasad or such offerings at home. Tell the giver that you have tooth ache and that you cannot immediately eat it. Promise them that you will do so on reaching home.. Go home, call a stray dog, give it a piece. If it survives  the offering is OK otherwise the results will tell. If you have a human heart and you find the dog getting unconscious take him to a vet and have its stomach washed. That will save the dog’s life and also your own. You could take care of the dog but none would have taken care of you. Hence do not trust strangers under any circumstances.’







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