Coming back from college a few days back I realized my inbox was flooded with similar messages talking about a bomb scare in the town. Chief locations like the South City Mall and Salt Lake had been mentioned in the threat note. It was unsettling to have friends calling up and saying how terrified they were to think that the city might be devastated by bomb blasts soon.
This was not the city I knew, or recognized. My city Kolkata had always been a city unperturbed by the goings-on of the outside world. Somewhat isolated but always in the loop, if generalizations are to be made, people in Kolkata can be called peace loving.
“I was scared because I was at Park Street and I was expecting a serial blast to happen. So I was apprehensive about where the next blast would take place”, says Srishti Bhatnagar, a second year student of Loreto College, Kolkata.
Eventually, the entire deal turned out to be a pretty big hoax but what it did was ensure that people woke up to some ground realities.
People in Kolkata are not prepared to face situations of crisis. Most of the hospitals here do not have adequate infrastructure and do not have enough people who can deal with post traumatic stress. No state-run hospital has a “psychological” unit so to speak and there are not enough hospital beds to accommodate everyone. “If there was a blast, there would have been too many casualties. Nothing can really be done about Calcutta. Everything’s packed in too tightly. I think our city survives thanks to the lack of infrastructure. And the lack of Corporate houses to hit at,” says Sandeep Mancha, who recently graduted from Jadavpur University, Kolkata.” I say all of this in a comparative way of course. When pitted against the other metros, we just don’t measure up.” adds Mancha.
Agrees another Kolkattan Brinda Dasgupta “I think we’re sadly lacking in terms of infrastructure. Security measures seriously need to be stepped up.”
And what did the people in other places think? “When I saw the news on television, it didn’t shock me in the least. I sort of thought it was a hoax. And such conspiracies can always be hushed up”, says a resident of Delhi, who prefers to remain anonymous. Rohan Sengupta, a student of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, had also not believed it. But he was relieved that the police was cautious about it.
Even though private hospitals have space, the state run hospitals definitely need more beds. I suppose the common verdict is the lack of infrastructure. Moreover, we also need a more active Intelligence Bureau which will prevent proliferation of anti-social elements and prevent, to the best of its ability, any further blasts.