From Friday, the old, rusty loudspeakers atop the numerous mosques in Mumbai’s far-flung northern suburb Mira Road started beaming a distinctly new message.
<b1>Before and after each azaan or prayer, imams of at least 24 of the 30-odd local mosques are asking residents to report suspicious terror-linked activity to either the mosque authorities or the police.
With the tremors of 31 bombings in Gujarat and Karnataka in the last two months still being felt across the nation, Mira Road, usually in the news for drinking water crises, has had a bigger reason to worry.
While all 16 suspects in these bombings are Muslims, Mira Road has housed the A-League of suspects like prime accused in 11/7 Mumbai train blasts Asif Khan and Ehtesham Siddique and Ahmedabad serial blasts key suspect techie Abdul Subhan. Two months ago, the Anti-Terrorism Squad gunned down two suspected Bangladeshi militants in Mira Road.
The suburb is home to about six lakh people, a third of whom are Muslims.
And now, from the heart of what seemed the transit camp of India’s homebred terror, voices of introspection and change have ironically started emerging.
“We are making the masses aware through hadis (teachings of Quran and the Prophet delivered before the Friday prayers) that terrorism is against Islam,” said Maulana Mansoor Ahmed, the chief priest with Jama Masjid Ashams, the largest mosque in Mira Road.
It is as if an entire community has come alive — thinking, acting with urgency — to tear off the invisible terror tag from its sleeves.
A drive has started to make a database of people living in every flat. Since men from most families work in the Gulf and women are not comfortable speaking to unknown men, a team of women has been formed to visit homes that do not have male members.