Scuffle at Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Surat, Hyderabad
The role of some BJP leaders in sparking the outbreak of fighting between police and Hindus in Surat and in Hyderabad on the occasion of a Hindu festival on September 24 has come to the fore with the loss of seven lives.
In Surat, the trouble began when organizers of the festival procession reneged on an understanding reached between them and the police. The procession was supposed to avoid the traditional route, via the Madina Mosque, which has been the scene of violence between Hindus and Muslims for the past three years.
According to eye-witnesses and the police sources, a BJP member of the Municipal Council, Mr. Ravindra Patil, had allegedly played a dubious role in the trouble. He instigated the incident by announcing to a crowd of over 10,000 that there was no agreement with the police regarding any change of route. Later, when the crowd learned that there was indeed an agreement for change of route, they turned on Mr. Patil himself. They burned his house and damaged his car and other vehicles parked outside his house.
In Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, four incidents of violence, including one near the Makkah Mosque, rocked the city. According to the police, the trouble started just before the Friday Prayers when a procession of Hindus was stopped a kilometer away from the Makkah Mosque. Police restriction on the movement of the procession near the mosque irked the Hindus. That led to an attack on the police. At another place in Hyderabad, Muslims also participated in stone pelting.
The Police Commissioner, Mr. S.R. Sukumara, said that the procession had already been asked to pass out of the Muslim-dominated Old City by noon in view of the Friday Prayers. However, when they did not meet the deadline, police stopped the procession to avert any incident.
Both in Hyderabad and Surat, strong police action averted a full-fledged communal riot.
We need L-bomb, not N-bomb, for world peace
On September 23, the Vishwa Kalyan Parishad and Jamaat Islami of India organized a joint press conference in New Delhi. A great Hindu saint and president of the Vishwa Kalyan Parishad, Jagat Guru Shankaracharya Madhavananda Saraswati, in his speech, said, "There can hardly be any protection with a nuclear bomb. If we want to eradicate terrorism, we have to make a LOVE BOMB."
Referring to Osama Bin Laden's alleged threats, he demanded the Vajpayee administration send him to Kabul as a messenger of peace. "I am not scared of death. Simply because a saint is willing to lay down his life for the nation and the religion."
He also protested against the labeling of Laden's threat as a form of "Islamic terrorism". "Terrorism is terrorism. It has no religion. Terrorism can never be Hindu, Sikh, Islamic or Christian. Neither Hindu religion nor India can be against Islam," he thundered.
Criticizing Indian media for creating Laden-phobia in the country, he questioned how the media found that Laden has declared Jihad against India.
Earlier on September 18, the Jamaat Islami organized an inter-religious meeting at its headquarters with participation of religious leaders from Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Bahai communities.
"Absence of moral and spiritual values in the societies has already rocked the country so much so that not only our future but our very existence is at stake," said Maulana Sirajul Hasan, president of the Jamaat.
The saffron-clad Shankaracharya, in his first meeting with Muslims, stressed on a dialogue among communities. "Unless we sit together, we cannot understand each other", he said.
"For the last 20 years the Hindus have been aroused against Muslims but the latter have always shown patience. This shows the message of peace and tolerance in Islam," the Shankaracharya stressed. "People belonging to all faiths participated in the Independence struggle against the British, nobody can deprive others of the right to live in India" he maintained.