It is past 12.30am on Monday. A nervousness looms over Patna’s Gandhi Maidan as people spot an illuminated flying object. Cameras are whipped out. “This is probably going to be the new WhatsApp rumour about the earthquake,” murmurs Abhishek Kumar, a law student. as his eyes follow the object.
As it comes closer, the object turns out to be a lantern sent out from one of the many weddings the city was hosting, even as scores of families sleep in parks out of fear of aftershocks.
Gaurav Sundaram, a postgraduate from Patna’s National Institute of Technology, was inspecting the Maidan before he could bring his family there when he spotted the lantern.
When the suspense ended, he spoke of the recent social media rumour that the quake had overturned the moon. “Although I knew it was impossible, even I looked (at the moon),” he said.
A police case has been registered against former MLA Dayanand Rai for spreading rumours about another earthquake through WhatsApp.
On Monday, number of people who had left their homes fearing aftershocks had come down to Gandhi Maidan.
Ramashish Rajak, a paramedic with an Ambulance posted at the Maidan said he had treated about 12 people over the past two nights. “People were anxious, tired. Most were cases of high blood pressure,” he said.
For some, the experience was altogether different. “About a hundred people played football on Sunday night,” said a local Suraj Singh.
College student Subodh Kumar said people have stopped turning up because of lack of facilities, including drinking water. When it rained Sunday night, people at the Maidan had to take refuge under a canopy erected for a meeting of Teli community.
“My mother is reluctant to come tonight because she fears there could be a hailstorm. That would be funny, getting injured in that trying to escape an earthquake,” said Sundaram.
At Eco Park, located near the CM’s office, there were more people on Monday. People slept on mats provided by the administration. Many left around 1.30 am, probably after losing the battle with mosquitoes.