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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

India’s victory: No riots, we move on

Bombings in temples in Varanasi and mosques in Hyderabad and Malegaon, in restaurants and cinema theatres have failed to incite communal riots — perhaps one of the prime intentions behind the attacks. Nandini Iyer reports. Special Coverage

india Updated: Aug 08, 2008 00:55 IST
Nandini R Iyer
Nandini R Iyer
Hindustan Times

Nine surgeries at the age of 15. A tenth is expected in two weeks.

When nine bombs pulverized Jaipur on May 13, killing 63 people, Rahul Sharma was among the 216 injured. His colon, small intestine and spleen were severely damaged. But he is not afraid of terrorists: on top of his mind is just his craving for pizza, burger and chaat and his friends, for whom he is missing in action.

“I am always hungry but the doctor has told me to eat small portions at a time. And it hurts if I eat my fill,” he says. As tears well up in his eyes, he admits: “I lose my temper with my mother all the time because I feel so frustrated.”

Tears and terror are becoming frequent for India as it flounders in its handling of internal security — which highlighted itself most recently this week when the government couldn’t present a powerful case against the Students Islamic Movement of India before a court. But Indians are showing impressive resilience — they move on.

Bombings in temples in Varanasi and mosques in Hyderabad and Malegaon, in restaurants and cinema theatres have failed to incite communal riots — perhaps one of the prime intentions behind the attacks. “All around us, there is a huge policy failure on fighting terrorism, we are just firefighting from case to case. But there is one silver lining. These incidents have failed to break communal harmony in India, even in a place like Gujarat,” a senior security official in New Delhi said, referring to the recent Ahmedabad blasts.

“Otherwise, can you imagine what could have happened after bombings in temples and mosques? We would never have been able to handle it… it says something of Indian people.”

In Jaipur, the Chand Pole Hanuman temple was among the targets. Sanjay, the flower seller, was sitting less than 10 metres from the entrance. “My brother and I were sorting flowers and my uncle was a few feet away, sitting on someone’s motorcycle, when the bomb exploded. I thought it was a short circuit… I ran into a shop,” he said. He did not realise his uncle's body was lying outside the shop while his brother was bleeding profusely from shrapnel wounds.

As the city shut down in shock, thousands rushed to hospitals and many Hindus and Muslims lined up to donate blood to people from each other’s religion. Hindus and Muslims promptly formed a peace committee whose members patrolled neighbourhood and defended each other.

The Nahargarh Police Station had two constables posted outside the Hanuman Mandir. They were injured but to date, the countrywide irony of India’s police force is playing out.

Mohar Singh, the recently posted station house office, still has only one sub-inspector instead of four, and 27 constables instead of the 69 positions sanctioned. He manages with a battered jeep and to fight crime, his constables get a bicycle allowance.

Of the two policemen who were injured on May 13, one is away in court to do paperwork for a case — India’s police force is burdened with jobs it has nothing to do with.

Still, the police force is putting in place some measures their counterparts have been slow in implementing. In March, the Jaipur Range was allotted Rs 30 lakh for modernisation. This was spent on installing cameras at the city’s busiest locations. “We had optical fibre cables laid, cameras procured” and they were being installed, said IG Pankaj Kumar Singh. Fifteen days before the security measures were to be in place, the bombings happened.