Terror scored again when peace and tranquillity of powerloom city Malegaon was shattered with four deadly blasts which claimed about 40 innocent lives (half of them children) and left over a hundred maimed and injured. The auspicious Friday was full of religious fervour as the faithful were busy making preparations for Shab-e-Barat (the Night of Salvation) which is traditionally celebrated in Malegaon in a grand way. The terrorists turned the auspicious Friday into Black Friday. The blasts occurred at the fag end of Juma prayers in Hamidia mosque and adjoining areas of Bada Qabristan and Mushaira Chowk.
It goes to the credit of Malegaon residents, that though they were shocked and battered yet they did not lose their heads. They did not allow the perpetrators of the crime the sadistic satisfaction of throwing the city into violence and mayhem. However their bitterness took a different shape and manifested itself when they vocally protested when Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh were distributing ‘consolation cheques’ to the relatives of the dead and the victims. Some among them protested that the compensation was inadequate, while others grudgingly accepted the doles. A few refused to accept the compensation money and shouted that they did not require money but security and its assurance in future. One local leader went so far to comment that “there cannot be any compensation for a life lost; we squarely hold the government responsible for the blasts which took place due to its lethargy and insensitivity. In spite of prior warnings they did not take precautionary steps and make adequate security arrangements.”
Sonia Gandhi was visibly embarrassed when a local chemist who lost his young son in the blasts burst out and said that they did not need this bhik (alms). He further shouted: “Arrest those who caused these blasts and we will present you with Rs. 10 lakh.” Another victim who lost his 17-year-old son also shouted, resonating the sentiments of thousands of Malegaon citizens, “We give taxes but in lieu of these don’t get anything from the government. Four decades ago Malegaon was more prosperous than Nasik but now its condition is pitiable.” Others also gave vent to their rage and confirmed the general complaint that once Malegaon was the Manchester of Maharashtra but because of government’s apathy has now become a lawaris (abandoned) city bereft of all civic amenities. A glimpse of the city confirms this factual analysis. All this is so because the city has committed a sin. It boasts of a Muslim majority, who make 75 per cent of the population. Nobody knows how long the city would remain in the state of neglect.
It is a positive development that Malegaon, which witnessed several Hindu-Muslim conflicts in the recent past, its residents have learnt hard way the lesson of reconciliation. Many politicians and trouble-makers, time and again, instigated the communities to fight on communal lines. Such recurrence was quite possible in the post-blasts tense atmosphere. But good sense prevailed upon Muslims and Hindus. Instead of blaming and fighting they helped each other. It was exhilarating to watch not only the Muslims but the Hindus also making a beeline to Wadia Hospital in predominantly Hindu area to donate blood. Muslim gesture of forming a human chain to escort to their homes hundreds of Hindu girls of Zila Parishad School helped in a big way to build mutual confidence and enhance inter-community harmony.
Good sense and resilience displayed by Malegaon in the wake of worst terrorist attack appears as a silver lining on the otherwise dark clouds of communal hatred which wrought havoc every now and then. We need this harmony and reconciliation always and everywhere. But police, which is still clueless about the perpetrators of Mumbai blasts must not be lethargic and do its bit to unearth the criminals who are behind this ghastly crime against humanity. Maharashtra government must do its duty of providing basic civic amenities to this long-neglected city of nine lakh citizens. It must shun its apathy, especially now when the tempers are frayed after the tragedy and take concrete steps to improve the economic condition of the former Manchester of Maharashtra.
And most importantly Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and other Hindu and Muslim organisations must redouble their efforts to promote better inter-community relations which may usher in peace, harmony and brotherhood. This is the basis for a tension-free, communal venom-free Malegaon, Maharashtra and India