A group of Mumbai-based bloggers came up with an excellent idea and established a special blog for those affected by the serial bomb blasts in the city's local trains on July 11. Thus, 'Mumbai Help' came into existence.
When I passed on the URL for the blog to a good friend, Murli, he had an interesting observation to make. He pointed out that in the list of people killed or injured in the blasts, posted on the blog, there are a number of Muslim names as well. Later, as I scanned the list, I discovered a few Sikh names also.
Though I have not made precise calculations, I dare say that Muslims and Sikhs constitute percentages of those killed or injured in the bomb blasts, which are quite close to being proportionate to the percentages that the numbers of Muslims and Sikhs in India form of its total population.
This implies that almost all sections of Indian society, in terms of religious faith, were affected by these events.
I wonder what those who were responsible for the attacks and those who whip up communal passions following such attacks, would have to say when confronted with these facts. Would they be willing to admit, at least to themselves, that all those killed can only be described as innocent human beings and such incidents can only be described as human tragedies?
More importantly, do the common folk, in particular, those who are likely to pay more attention than is due to these agents provocateur, recognise these facts?
And, God forbid, what would have been the consequences if these incidents had taken place in a neighbouring state (which is ruled by a party different from the one that rules Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital) the government of which had earlier been widely accused of at least having turned a blind eye to, if not having actively sponsored communal riots?
In fact, the (communal violence-tainted) chief minister of the neighbouring state was invited to address a public meeting in Mumbai, following the blasts. If he meant to arouse communal passions, as many people think, he did not succeed.
Was there no 'communal backlash' in this case only because the ruling party and its affiliates in the state of Maharashtra saw no political gains forthcoming from organising something like that?
It is difficult for me to say.
However, I can say with absolute certainty that no religion in the world advocates communalism.
To quote from a famous poem by Dr. Mohammad Allama Iqbal:
Mazhab nahi sikhaataa aapas mein bair rakhnaa...
(Religion does not preach hatred...)
Ironically, though, Dr. Iqbal left for Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.