//Blunt message from shrapnels

Blunt message from shrapnels

Syeda Hameed, Indian Express, April 17, 2006

Jama Masjid blast tears apart the simplistic theory that all acts of terrorism are linked and connected

Beyond the fact of its splendour and beauty, there are two reasons why Jama Masjid has a special place in my heart. It is the last resting place of two people who symbolise Hindu Muslim unity and peace, which is beyond consideration of religion, caste, class and community. They are poet-saint Sarmad Shaheed, whose mazar lies just outside on the Masjid grounds, and scholar-ideologue Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who lies in the same ground overlooking the mosque. When the blasts occurred within the precincts of the mosque, I felt they violated the message of both the scholar and the saint.

Yesterday the peace and sanctity of the mosque was shattered by two blasts, which occurred near the place where people perform ablutions before praying. It was time for Asr prayers, half past five in the evening. Suddenly, one after another the two blasts created pandemonium. Shrapnel injuries, people being carried away, sight of blood, warnings on the loud speaker which had just called the azan, Imam appealing for calm, police rushing around; Delhi was a city in the grip of panic. The usual terrorist suspects, the Muslims, had become the target of terrorists. And while calm was restored and people behaved with exemplary discipline, the question on everyone’s lips was who perpetrated this terror? Who is to gain by this dastardly act?

At the same time a parallel series of blasts were shaking Srinagar. They took the entire city in their malevolent grip. The worst was at Dalgate, the hub of tourist traffic and business centre. Suddenly when Srinagar was having one of its best tourist seasons, flights and hotels were overflowing suddenly came this grim reminder of terror. A beautiful Baisakhi day on which Nishat and Shalimar gardens just opened for the season, was bloodied with five slashed bodies and more than a score injured. They were Muslims and Hindus, just ordinary women and men who had come out for prayers. Terror cuts across all religions. Responsibility was claimed by four groups, Jamiatul Mujahideen, Al Mansurain, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Islamic Front. Once again who are these faceless killers and who is to gain by this dastardly act?

The simple logic is that if Muslims are targetted, the perpetrators must be Hindus and, if Hindus are targetted, it must be Muslims. Conjectures fly. Is Jama Masjid retaliation for the Sankat Mochan temple? Was Sankat Mochan retaliation for…? In the public mind all acts of terrorism are thus linked and connected. The spiral moves backwards and forward; it has no end in sight. Historical wrongs are thus sought to be corrected. But as all our sages and saints, including Azad and Sarmad, have told us from the beginning of time, terror breeds terror, the spiral of violence perpetuates itself. The only way out is for all peace-loving and sane human beings to simply refuse to retaliate.

As a small child growing up in India when the wounds of Partition were still fresh, I experienced great embarrassment and pain at the underlying fear that somehow I was responsible for the trains from West Punjab which arrived on Indian platforms filled with slaughtered bodies of innocent citizens. That feeling of personal responsibility has never left me. It continues to dog me even five decades later whenever any terrorist act shakes the secular foundations of my country. I recall being in Dimapur, Nagaland, when the horrific blasts shook Delhi markets of Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar in August last year. Once again Islam came under the shadow and standing on the edge of this country among the Naga Hills, I thought about Islam’s repugnance for terror. Today in the context of this terror and other such acts perpetrated in the name of religion, I think of the lines of Azad written in his article on Shaikh Sarmad, which to me symbolise the spirit of my country; it is a spirit which abhors this senseless slaughter of innocents in the name of religion.

A true lover of God is misled/ Both by religion and lack thereof A moth does not choose/Between the burning candle/Whether in the mosque or the temple.

I condemn this act, committed whether in the name of my religion or any other faith. Jama Masjid, the place where the faithful bow their heads five times a day, stands as a symbol of Islam, which having brought the message of peace for all humankind rejects every form of violence.

The writer is Member, Planning Commission. Write to s.hameedATnic.in

Reprinted from http://www.indianexpress.com/story/2556.htm