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Muslim organisations flay temple attack

It was the most barbaric crime in Akshardham temple in Gujarat. In an audacious attack on the heart of state, terrorists sprayed bullets on devotees and tourists thereby killing 37 people and injuring over 70. A couple of days ago, nobody would have imagined that two youths in their early twenties, driven by vengeance and loaded with ammunition would have “five crores peace-loving Gujaratis” on edge for over 15 hours. Mercifully, the temple has survived the terrorist assault. But the tragic loss of innocent lives will be hard to compensate.

Was this attack unexpected? Perhaps not. The scars left by the post-Godhra riots have still not healed fully. The healing process was certainly not helped by the intemperate remarks of CM Narendra Modi during his “Gaurav Yatra”.

It was a responsible and chastened New Delhi, which stepped out swiftly to contain the fallout from the macabre, provocative images coming out of the Swaminarayan temple in Gandhinagar. Within an hour of the tragedy, Deputy prime minister LK Advani pleaded for general calm. “Communal riots and retaliation,” he said, “would only play into the hands of those responsible for the gruesome tragedy”.

Later, the Prime Minister flew into Gandhinagar and threw his weight behind what Advani had told chief minister Narendra Modi: the nation will not stand for a repeat of the post-Godhra mayhem. Vajpayee’s condemnation of this “cycle of violence and counter violence” is the closest anyone in authority has come to hinting that the siege of the temple was “counter violence,” in retaliation for what had happened in Gujarat since February 27.

Has the wheel come full circle in Gujarat? Some RSS functionaries are of the view that efforts are on to control any large-scale reaction to the temple tragedy. This would suggest that a degree of sanity and moderation may have come after the gruesome tragedy.

One wonders if such statements and calls for restraint would have also worked successfully after the Godhra carnage. Why did the politicians and religious leaders of both communities not issue calls for calm at that time? Why was the army called in late? Narendra Modi, who proclaimed then that he had controlled the riots in 72 hours, was this time appealing for peace within 72 minutes. Good sense prevailed this time.

Meanwhile, Muslim leaders from the city have strongly condemned the attack on the temple in Gandhinagar and asked the state government to crush all terrorist activities with a heavy hand.

Prof. Abid Shamsi, condemning the attack, said terrorists have no religion. By attacking one of the most pious and religious places, the terrorists have tried to tarnish the image of the country. The government, he said, should take immediate steps to nip further trouble in the bud.

Spokesman of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, John Momin, standing committee chairman of the city municipal corporation, Badruddin Shaikh, Congress corporators Liaquat Ghori, Taufiqkhan Pathan and Anisa Mirza in a joint statement condemned the attack on the temple and asked the state and the Union governments to take stern action against terrorism so that such incidents do not recur. They have also asked Muslims to offer special namaz for the recovery of the injured.

Gujarat Sarvanajik Relief Committee’s acting president Afzal Memon in a statement on behalf of the members of the Muslim community of Gujarat, said, “we strongly condemn the dastardly attack by terrorists on Akshardham.”

The president of the state unit of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Muhammed Shafi Madni, said that targeting a religious place and killing innocent people was a most dastardly act. He demanded immediate action against those involved and asked people to maintain peace and tranquility.

Yusuf Hakim, chairman Iqraa Charitable Foundation, flayed the attack and asked the state government to curb terrorist activities, which have raised their ugly head in the state.

¯ Abdul Hafiz Lakhani, Gandhinagar

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