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15 July 2011

Mumbai Blasts: Indirect Attack on Gujarat?

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Gujarat appears to loom large over the Mumbai blasts. That’s apparently why terrorists targeted the Zaveri Bazaar and Opera House for bomb blasts on last Wednesday, July 13, 2011, questions arose similar to those after the July 2006 terror attacks on the city’s suburban trains — was the Gujarati community targeted?

The July 11, 2006, blasts that killed over 200 people took place in the first class compartments of trains going to western suburbs, such as Malad, Kandivli and Borivli, which have a large concentration of Gujaratis.

On August 25, 2003, Zaveri Bazar and Gateway of India were the targets of a terror attack that killed over 50 people. Earlier, blasts had taken place in Ghatkopar in July 2003, Mulund in March 2003 and Vile Parle in January 2003 — all largely inhabited by Gujaratis. After the 2003 blasts, the then chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde had said that there was no indication that the terrorists had targeted the Gujarati community.

Hemraj Shah of the Bruhadmumbai Gujarati Samaj, a community organisation, said that the terrorists had probably chosen areas that were crowded in the evening to kill more people. “Zaveri Bazar is close to the police commissioner’s office. Khau Galli in Opera House and Kabutarkhana in Dadar are crowded in the evenings with office workers leaving for home,” said Shah.

Viren Shah, President of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, was of a similar opinion. “To some extent, it looks like the diamond and jewellery hubs have been targeted, as Opera House and Zaveri Bazar are centres of this business. At the same time, it also looks like the terrorists targeted crowded areas.”

Sources said the aim apparently was to hit the rich Gujaratis, The Lashkar-e-Taiba, intelligence reports suggest, has recruited local youths saying that they should take revenge for the atrocities heaped on the minority community in Gujarat where the Narendra Modi government is heavily funded by the rich Gujarati businessmen of Mumbai.

What else do we know?

The aftershocks of latest serial blasts in Mumbai shook Gujarat deeply. A large number of people killed and injured were Gujaratis.

At least seven people, mostly diamond traders, were killed in the blasts, while another eight diamond traders were reported to be missing till Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, in a press statement Fr Cedric Prakash SJ, Director of PRASHANT (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace), has strongly condemned the blasts in Mumbai. He said that violence of any kind and on any one must be eschewed.
“Violence is NO answer for any injustice. The perpetrators must be brought to book immediately and be severely dealt with. We condole with all those who have lost a loved one..and pray that those injured, may have a speedy and complete recovery. Let us all, in a spirit of solidarity ensure that peace and harmony prevail,” said Fr Cedric Prakash.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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