A Vadodara-based human rights activist has offered to sponsor the education of the children of those responsible for the July 26 serial blasts.
Dr J.S.Bandukwala, a retired professor of nuclear physics at M.S.University, is unfazed that he may be labelled a terrorist 'sympathiser' for this. The professor is a human rights activist whose house was destroyed in the post-Godhra riots in 2002.
“I have approached the family with the offer of taking care of the schooling expenses,” Dr Bandukwala told Hindustan Times, without revealing the identity of the child or mother.
“This gesture should not be misconstrued as my pronouncing judgement on the accused. They should be punished if they are proved guilty, but the education of their children should not suffer,” Bandukwala said.
His offer was prompted by the news that the children had applied for school leaving certificates as their mother could no longer afford their education.
The principal of the school, aware of Bandukwala’s philanthropic activities, had sent him a message.
Dr Bandukwala, who attracted his own community's ire for suggesting Muslims should forget and forgive those responsible for the Godhra riots, asserted he has said umpteen times that terrorism is against the tenets of Islam.
The professor said that after dropping out, a child from a lower middle class background ends up either at a tea stall or gets into a madrasa, the later being worse.
“The bitterness in the young mind gradually grows into hatred and he becomes an anti-social or a terrorist,” reasoned Bandukwala, who has witnessed three decades of communal riots in Gujarat.
This is not the first time Dr Bandukwala has taken such an initiative.
After the 2002 riots, he floated a trust to take care of the schooling of 171 children whose parents were jailed under POTA for burning the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. This had killed 58 people, sparking the pogrom in Gujarat.
Bandukwala's inspiration: The 20th Surah (chapter) of the Quran that says "Waqur Rabbi Zidni Ilma ( O Lord, increase my knowledge )". Appropriately named Zidni Ilma, the trust spends nearly Rs 2 lakh a year on these.
The “Zidni Ilma” raises money through zakat from devout Muslims.