HYDERABAD BLASTS: Wake up call for secular India

Wake up call for secular India

Bobby Ramakant

The people of secular sovereign India have stood strong and more resolved for peace and amity, even at the wake of repeated attacks on religious places. These have only exposed the nefarious designs of a handful of those behind these terror attacks. Undoubtedly these repeated acts of terror have put us through one of the gravest tests of courage, patience, commitment to peace and humane social order.

Another attempt to thwart the communal harmony in India was made on Friday 18 May 2007 when a crude RDX bomb exploded near the historic Mecca Mosque in Hyderabad. Apart from that, there were two live bombs recovered from the spot and defused.

There have been repeated attempts to instigate different religious communities in the past.

Two explosions that took place in quick succession inside the historic Jama Masjid in Old Delhi when the devout were offering prayers on a Friday evening of April 2006. The first explosion took place at around 5.30 pm, when devotees were preparing for 'Asar' (evening prayer) near a pond used by them for ablutions.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, had then made an appeal to the people of India to “maintain communal harmony and to defeat the designs of those who want to disrupt the peaceful co-existence between Hindus and Muslims”.

On the eve of 2005 Diwali, bomb blasts went off in Sarojini Nagar market, Paharganj and a bus in Kalkaji area of Delhi, killing more than 50 people.

Ajay Sahani, Terrorism Expert of Institute of Conflict Management, had then said, "It is clear that objective was to incite violence within the country. But the good thing about today's event and the event in Varanasi [blast at the temple and railway station] was that people were not reacting in frenzy and people behind the blasts were not succeeding."

Similar sentiments reinforcing secular feelings were expressed. Even media restrained and demonstrated sensitive and responbile journalism, in the wake of ugly events of terror and strife.

An overwhelming majority of people in India have realized the vested interests of handful of those who mastermind these terror attacks on religious institutions and thankfully have refused to be instigated by them. By not spewing venom and hatred, we have made the efforts unsuccessful of those who pull the terror-trigger.

Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta reviewed the national security situation in the wake of the bomb explosion at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad during Friday prayers (18 May 2007).

Steps were taken to ensure that the communal violence, which erupted in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, does not spill over to other parts of the country.

The Indian Home Ministry has alerted all the state governments to be vigilant about the anti-social elements seeking to use the Mecca Masjid incident to whip up communal passion and create disturbances to upset peace and harmony.

Noted social activist and Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey said that “Despite of piercing ache in our hearts, we feel all the more committed to make the voices of the majority heard – majority of us hindus and muslims don't want violence and hatred between people, there is a small minority of people indulging in acts of violence and terror, and they don't represent us.”

Few people have been resorting to such brutal ways to invoke undue hatred and anguish, and undoubtedly cause an irrevocable loss of human life.

We also believe that our response in this grim and sad hour of grief should not be of hatred and revenge - rather our commitments to peace and non-violence should be as determined as possible. The perpetrators of violence want to invoke hatred, we must be resolute to not yield to their demands. This is the time to test our steely resolve - to peace, love and harmonious co-existence.

I consider it as a wake up call for the secular India, and we have been ignoring the blaring sirens for long. The struggle to establish a just social and humane order, impacting the lives of most underserved communities, is indeed a long one. It is the time for all of us to dawn our often-neglected roles of being a responsible citizen of secular India as well.

Bobby Ramakant

(The author is a senior health and development journalist, writing for newspapers in Asia, Africa and Middle East. He can be contacted at: bobbyramakant@yahoo.com)