//Malegaon Blasts Impact Mostly Muslims

Malegaon Blasts Impact Mostly Muslims

Still no arrests made in deadly attacks

Rajen Nair, 2006-09-14, OhMyNews.COM,
The culprits behind the Malegaon bomb blasts are still at large. The police have made little headway, except to come up with rough stretches of three suspects, who, according to local eyewitnesses, behaved suspiciously just before the blasts took place. The police have been unearthing a huge cache of explosives from Malegaon and neighboring towns in Nashik.

Laboratory tests have revealed that the materials used in the Malegaon blast were a deadly mixture of RDX, ammonia nitrate, and fuel, similar to those used in the Mumbai blast. The police, however, have ruled out any connection between the blasts, however, thus weakening the theory that the same terrorist group was involved.

In the Mumbai blast, the attack was directed at Hindus traveling in suburban trains. The police and the government jumped to the conclusion that the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba, a powerful terror group, was responsible. In the case of the Malegaon blasts, Muslims for the first time were at the receiving end of a terrorist attack. From past experience, the government has learned not to hazard a guess in naming any particular terror group.

The three blasts that took place last Friday outside the mosque in Malegaon took the lives of at least 37 Muslims and left over 125 injured.

After the blasts, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi visited the blast site to placate and assuage the feelings of angry Muslims grieving over their dead. She had to make a hasty retreat in the face of agitated locals. The Muslims directed their ire toward her and Vilasrao Deshmukh, chief minister of Maharashtra state, who was present with her.

They bore a grudge against the ruling government for the alleged apathy shown the people of Malegaon. In the past, Desmukh had promised them a hospital, which is yet to see the light of day. There has hardly been any development work worth its name carried out in Malegaon. The area lacks basic civic amenities, like drainage and public toilets.

After the blasts, owing to a lack of healthcare facilities, the victims and injured had to be rushed to far-flung towns.

Such was the frustration of the Muslim victims' kin that they refused to accept the meager compensation of Rs 1 lakh (US$2,165) doled out to each family of the dead and Rs 50,000 (US$1,083) to the injured. They pointed out the discrimination against Muslims in paying compensation compared to the Mumbai blast, in which each Hindu victim's kin received Rs 5 lakh (US$10,823).

It must be noted here that in the Mumbai blast the victims died on the premises of the railway, so they were entitled to compensation from the railway as well.

Malegaon is well known for its power loom industry. Seventy five percent of its population are Muslims, and the rest are Hindus. Malegaon is riot prone and designated as a communally-sensitive area by the government. Ironically, both Muslims and Hindus are interdependent in the trading of power loom wares. The majority of the Muslims are into weaving and sell their wares to the Hindus, who run the power loom units. Past riots between these two communities have seen their businesses severely impacted, incurring heavy losses.

The formation of peace committees, consisting of members from both communities, has also helped to maintain a fragile peace during heightened communal tension. In fact, just after the blasts, the much-feared communal riots did not take place, and the credit for this should go to the peace committee.

Indian Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in a recent statement, has not ruled out the possible role of a Hindu fundamentalist group in the Malegaon investigation. Some time back, the Hindu fundamentalist organization Bajrang Dal had planned to bomb a mosque in Parbhani, Maharashtra.

Bajrang Dal is an offshoot of the RSS (Rashtriya Seva Sangh) organization that has strong links with the former ruling right wing BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).

The Bajrang Dal, a known Muslim baiter, spares no effort in fomenting communal tension around the country. They had a free run during the past BJP rule at the center, and its leaders failed to rein in the fanatic elements present in Bajrang Dal. During BJP rule the Bajrang Dal was in the forefront of attacks on Christian missionaries located in the country, e.g., the infamous case of the Australian missionary, Graham Stains, in Orissa, eastern India, who was burnt alive by the main suspect, Dara Singh, supposedly linked to Bajrang Dal.

In the past, whenever a blast took place in the country, the burden of suspicion automatically fell on Muslims. It is time the Hindus, too, acknowledge that there are terror elements in their community. They have to be equally vociferous in condemning the Hindu fundamentalist, who is out to bring disgrace and shame on the Hindu majority.
©2006 OhmyNews