Blasts in Delhi's main mosque, 15 injured
By Zafarul-Islam Khan
Milli Gazette Online
New Delhi, 15 April 2006: At least 15 people were injured when two bombs exploded in rapid succession in the courtyard of the Jama Masjid, the Indian capital's largest mosque, shortly after the afternoon ('asr) prayers yesterday. People of all age groups including women and children were among the injured. One of them is in serious condition.
Police is looking for a woman who had left at least one of the bags which hid explosives which have been termed as "crude". Police tried to divert the course of investigations by claiming at a very early stage that the blasts do not seem a terrorist attack. The blasts seem a revenge exercise, it claimed without offering any proof.
Police averted more casualties by diffusing a third bomb found at the place near the ablution tank in the centre of the courtyard of the 17th century mosque built by Emperor Shahjahan who also built Taj Mahal, considered to be the world's most beautiful monument.
A red alert has been sounded in the capital and some other parts of the country after these blasts just as political and Muslim community leaders appealed for calm and peace.
Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi visited the mosque soon after the blasts and appealed for calm. President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam too condemned the blasts and issued an appeal for calm.
As seen last month in the wake of the terrorist attack on a temple in the sacred Hindu town of Varanasi, there was no popular backlash of any kind after the latest outrage.
Thousands of people from the Muslim-dominated areas around the mosque converged on the place soon after the blasts in a show of defiance and solidarity while keeping their peace. A larger than usual number of people offered Maghrib and 'Isha prayers in the mosque which holds a special place in the life of the Indian Muslim community and its imam (prayer leader) is accorded a special status in the Indian political and social life.
The imam of the historic mosque, Sayyid Ahmad Bukhari and other Muslim and government leaders appealed for calm and warned against the exploitation of the blasts for further vitiating the communal atmosphere in the country.
India has seen a number of similar events during the past few weeks starting with the attack on a Hindu temple in the town of Varanasi on 7 March. Shortly after that attack, Praveen Togadia, a firebrand Hindu nationalist leader, had warned that if Hindu temples are attacked mosques will not be safe.
Soon the political leader of the Hindu extremists, LK Advani who was the deputy prime minister and interior minister in the BJP-led government voted out two years ago, announced to take out his rath yatra, a voyage around the country in a symbolic Hindu chariot, in order to awaken Hindu masses. A similar yatra in 1992 had led to the demolition of the Babri mosque. Even government officials warned that this yatra will lead to communal tensions in the country.
The chariot voyage started on 6 April from the north-western state of Gujarat, which is ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP. The result was soon visible when bloody riots erupted in a number of places, especially in Aligarh, the seat of the famous Aligarh Muslim University, where eight people have been killed and around 50 injured. Parts of Aligarh town are still under curfew a week after the start of the bloody incidents in which Muslims bore the brunt.