|Attacks are aimed at disrupting social harmony|
by Deveika Bhojwani
As we remain in shock and grief after the violence that caught our city unprepared and unprotected, we must start focusing on some very vital issues to try and understand why we are being targeted over and over again. Last week was the 16th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It was a relief to see that day pass without any incidence. However, the aftermath of that one senseless act of destruction, has left such a trail of violence, that the repercussions are still being felt today. Our so called leaders and politicians still defend their actions and in the name of religion have fanned hatred and violence between communities, for their own political gain, trying to turn us against each other.
The young men, who were sent to create mayhem on the night of the 26th in Mumbai, were brain washed into believing that they were avenging the atrocities suffered by members of their community, living in India. One of the survivors, who witnessed first hand, the gunning down of innocent lives at the Oberoi hotel, clearly heard the terrorist say, “This is for Babri Masjid! This is for Godhra!” These recent attacks were aimed at not only creating terror but more importantly to try and turn us, once again, against each other. If this happens then the terrorists will have won. But this time the victory will be ours.
From what one has witnessed starting with the thousands who have gathered at rallies and solidarity meetings across the country, this time the citizens of India, especially the youth, are determined to stand up united and make a difference. This time the intelligensia has been affected, people in positions of power, with voices that can be heard. We must seize the moment, to demand the changes that we need and for accountability. But most important we must realize that our greatest strength lies in the ability to be united and tolerant towards each other. It is heartening to see the Muslim community come out in full force to condemn these extremist acts of terrorism. Secular Muslims, including the clergy, are coming out to denounce the terrorists and all that they stand for. Many Indian Muslims have decided not to celebrate Eid and wear a black band in protest. Why do they have to keep proving their Indianism? Why do we continue to look at them with suspicion?
The Anti-Muslim tirade gathers momentum every time such events take place. This has to stop! We know from recent events in Malaegaon that radical extremists exist in both communities. Should one then point a finger of suspicion at the whole community? This battle against terror has to be won in the minds. The ideologies of hate and suspicion must be countered by tolerance and understanding. In the words of Amitav Ghosh published in the New York Times recently, “Defeat or victory is not determined by the success of the strike itself; it is determined by the response” The recent strikes were aimed at our people, our prosperity and our peace but most important, at our unity. The aim was to turn us on each other in hatred and conflict. Lets deny them that victory.
Deveika Bhojwani is a trustee of Citizens for Peace. This article appeared in the DNA on December 10th, 2008.