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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Surat disputes ‘local support’

The precision with which the bombs were planted in busy areas of Surat has baffled the city’s prominent citizens, industry leaders and social scientists, reports Rathin Das.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2008 00:12 IST
Hindustan Times

The precision with which the bombs were planted in busy areas of Surat has baffled the city’s prominent citizens, industry leaders and social scientists.

The knowledge of the bustling city’s topography displayed by the culprits has pointed the needle of suspicion towards what Surat Police Commissioner R.M.S. Brar described as “local support”.

This conclusion has, however, angered many who swear by Surat’s decades-old record of communal harmony.

As most of the unexploded bombs were found in the Varachcha area, the hub of the diamond industry, many are inclined to believe that the sparkling trade could have been the real target.

“That the motive behind planting the bombs specially in Varachcha to cripple the diamond trade cannot be ruled out,” said Pravin Nanavati, a diamond trader and former president of the South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

A diamond trade source said international orders for Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day are booked around this time, implying that the bombs were part of an economic war, as hinted by the Chief Minister.

But social scientists have a different view of the ‘local support’ (read Muslims) behind the planting of the bombs.

Unlike fully ghettoised Ahmedabad, Muslims in Surat are a heterogeneous group and many have healthy business and social relations with Hindus.

“The elite Muslims and Hindus in the textile trade are so intricately interconnected by business relations that they cannot afford to antagonise one another,” said Prof Kiran Desai of the Centre for Social Studies in South Gujarat University.

The influential Bohras are basically merchants with trade links with Hindu businessmen, he said, suggesting that suspecting them of harbouring terrorist elements is out of the question.

In the social arena too, numerous Hindus partake of the choicest non-vegetarian food during Ramzan month’s night-long feasts and many Muslims participate in the Ganeshotsav rituals.

“These socially institutionalised events between the two communities cannot be ignored (while suggesting Muslim involvement),” said Prof Biswarup Das, director of the Centre for Social Studies.

Brar told HT on Thursday: “I have only said that local support is possible but it does not mean that we have come across any leads on it.”

Police officials in Mumbai investigating the case, said the CCTV footage at a toll booth that could have provided clues of the persons who stole cars from Navi Mumbai for the Ahmedabad blasts has so far been inconclusive.