The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stunned Calcutta wing turns to prayer

Calcutta, Sept. 24: The Calcutta wing of the Swaminarayan sect, whose Gandhinagar headquarters was attacked by terrorists on Tuesday, reacted to the news with incredulity and incomprehension.

The Chakraberia Road temple — a rendezvous for religious-minded Gujaratis living in the city — decided to seek solace in prayer.

As the temple received condolence calls from Gujaratis across the world, from London to New York and Nairobi to California, comforting members of the sect and asking them to “pray for peace and well-being”, Swami Divyamurti, the temple’s in-charge, took time off to speak to The Telegraph.

“One of the devotees called up around 4.45 p.m. to inform me of what happened,” he said. “I could not believe my ears. Why choose a place of prayer to strike terror'”

Bharat Sinh Jhala, the first person to call up Swami Divyamurti, came to the temple around 6 pm.

“When I first heard the breaking news on a television channel, I could not believe what had happened,” he said. “I immediately called up swamiji to inform him of the incident.”

Jhala was one of the 500-odd devotees who turned up at the temple by 7 pm to offer condolences and express solidarity.

P.B. Ajmera, a Calcutta-based Gujarati businessman, said the terrorists should have left the Akshardham temple alone. “What did they expect to get there'” he asked.

Two of the seven sadhus posted here are currently touring Assam, but the remaining sadhus are sure that they have heard of the incident.

“We are still trying to contact them,” one of the sadhus said.

Despite the attack at their headquarters, the temple authorities have not sought any additional security from the state government.

“We do not apprehend any attack here,” Swami Divyamurti said, explaining the decision.

Instead, the temple’s guardians have sent out a simple command for the sect’s followers in the city. “Pray. It will work wonders.”

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