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Delhiites shun markets as terror e-mail instills fear
September, 14th 2011

The bustle across the markets and malls of the capital and its satellite towns was missing on Tuesday, as people stayed away after an email threatened a terror attack. The day also marked the third anniversary of the 2008 Delhi serial blasts. Fear was palpable in the air after the email received by media houses on Sep 8 said a shopping complex in Delhi will be targeted on Tuesday. It claimed to be from the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, after the Sep 7 Delhi high court blast that killed 13 and left over 90 injured.

"I saw it in the news and SMSes were also circulating that there were terror threats to market areas today (Tuesday). So it is better to stay at home," said housewife Kamala Kaul living in Sarojini Nagar.

As the day also marked the third anniversary of the 2008 blasts at busy market areas of Karol Bagh in central Delhi, Greater Kailash-I in south Delhi and the central business district of Connaught Place, security was tightened in markets across Delhi.

"Additional police forces are deployed in all market areas, including Connaught Place, Mehrauli, Karol Bagh, Sarojini Nagar and Chandni Chowk. Even big malls in and around the city have been alerted," a Delhi Police officer requesting anonymity told IANS.

The Delhi Police advised people to exercise a high degree of caution, monitor the surroundings and avoid visiting markets. "People should inform police if they find any suspicious object, person or vehicle."

Major markets like Sarojini Nagar, Karol Bagh, Connaught Place, Gaffar Market and Khan Market saw decreased footfalls. Even the shopping malls of National Capital Region (NCR) cities like Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad were put on high alert.

"In view of the recent bomb blast outside the Delhi High Court and the terror threat, we want to take all precautionary measures.

"Apart from frisking all visitors with hand-held metal detectors, additional security personnel were deployed in parking areas," said shop owner Anoop Sharma at the Great India Place mall in Noida.

Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders' Association member Ashok Randhawa felt that it was not just the terror threat which kept Delhiites vigilant but also the memories of the 2008 blasts in the capital's busy markets.

"Despite the strict security arrangements, many people have kept away from the market. Thousands of people visit the market even during weekdays but they gave it a miss today," he added.

Blaming the media, Randhawa said: "Hyping the issue of the terror threat and blasts has made people more panicky. Our sales have dipped to 40%  as there is a drastic fall in the number of customers."

"The market looks almost empty even if there are about 200 policemen guarding the area."

Posh Khan Market also had an increased police presence.

"A Delhi Police advisory was circulated to all the shopkeepers. We have 24 Closed Circuit Television cameras (CCTVs)," said Khan Market Association president Sanjiv Mehra.

Shopkeepers were hopeful of normalcy soon.

"We get panicky and scared by such threats but we should be cautious enough. How many days can we lock ourselves inside our home? After two days, everything will be back to normal," said Aman Singh, a shopper at Gaffar Market.

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