India is in bunker mode after a series of explosions killing three in Bangalore and 49 in Ahmedabad and Surat in western India. Many think this is the work of the ISI, Pakistan’s premiere intelligence agency, but no evidence to this effect has been unearthed. The Telegraph reports that a group that has stepped forward, which also admitted to the May bombings in Jaipur.
… A little-known group styling itself the “Indian Mujahideen” claimed responsibility for the bombings in an email sent to local television channels minutes before the first explosion at around 6.30pm yesterday. This message declared that the attack was retribution for the killings of Muslims in 2002.
Ahmedabad has a large Muslim population and these bombs were placed out in the open and not in temples and other places that Hindus frequent specifically. These attacks then were aimed at undermining India as a whole and not just at killing Hindus. Ajay Sahni, a terrorism expert at the Institute for Conflict Management in Delhi, agrees and tells the Christian Science Monitor,
“These people want to hurt the country in any way possible … Causing communal tensions is a secondary objective to that. If I wanted to whip up communal riots I would ensure that only Hindus were killed whereas these attacks are occurring in areas with mixed populations.” Indeed, Saturday’s attacks occurred in Ahmedabad’s old city, which houses many Muslims.
Regardless of such logic and a plea for calm, I’ll be surprised if the wheels of vengeance aren’t set in motion. Therefore, I am scared for family and friends all over the country and for people like this blogger who makes our fear and uncertainty pale in comparison to his.
Blasts everywhere; in Bangalore, in Ahmedabad; everyday; Are we the next target? Policemen are still diffusing live bombs … Government is calling confidential security meetings. What has happened to the country? Where are we leading? Is this the way India will lead to a bright future?
This morning, I listened to the first part of East Meets West on Wisconsin Public Radio’s To The Best Of Our Knowledge. Muslim scholar and author, Ziauddin Sardar, was interviewed and asked what he thought of a clash of civilizations between the West and the Islamic East. Sardar responded that, in order for there to be a clash between civilizations, civilization first has to exist; the West cannot occupy an Eastern nation and torture its people, while the response from the Muslim East has been equally irrational and barbaric. Applying this to Hindu-Muslim tensions in India, the current cycle of attacks and revenge on both sides is an unsustainable model. Furthermore, nothing, no amount of land or religious primacy, is enough for some parties and peace is not what they seek. To accede to their demands and, most critically, to turn into them is not the answer. When we respond in their fashion, they have won.