The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Not Gujarat, vows city

Mumbai, Aug. 26: “There won’t be a Gujarat in Mumbai if that is what they want,” Abdul Zariwala, a shopkeeper at Zaveri Bazaar, said hours after the blast yesterday.

He had an unlikely ally in Praful Solanki, a passer-by who came in the line of fire. Asked who he thought was responsible, Solanki said: “Muslims, but those who did this are all terrorists who have come from outside. Yahaan ka koi nahi hoga.’’

Mumbai today is distraught and dazed, even angry and anxious, but the city seems to have seen through the devious game.

“It is heart-rending to see how a majority of Hindus don’t hold us responsible in any way for what is happening,” Salimullah Mia, a 72-year-old vendor of paan and beedi, said.

“Earlier (the 1992-93 riots), I would have run when something like this happened…. I won’t do that anymore. My regular patrons still buy from me, they still call me chacha.”

Salimullah lost his brother in the riots a decade ago but with touching faith he says he is “certain” no one will now target him just because he is a Muslim.

Mumbai has been hit hard by a series of blasts beginning last December — there have been seven blasts, including the two yesterday — but there has not been a single incident of communal clash in their wake.

“This is more heartening because the blasts have come after the Gujarat riots last year,” says Syed Khan of the Muslim Youth of India, a group formed by young, educated Muslim men to foster communal harmony.

“I believe in the character of Mumbai,’’ chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had said after an earlier blast. The city has not let him down.

When the Shiv Sena called a Mumbai bandh after two persons died in the second Ghatkopar bus blast on July 28, an array of Muslim organisations came forward to support the bandh.

Muslims groups have been more vociferous than anyone else in decrying the acts of terrorism. “That’s because we see the dangers of silence,” said Syed. “We have to root for peace. It is people who lose at the end of the day, not governments or terrorist organisations.”

Soon after the first bus blast in Ghatkopar on December 2 last year, members of MY India went on an intensive campaign telling community members to differentiate between jihad and terrorism. They went from door to door telling Muslims that they should be proud to be Indians.

Though it is much quieter in Zaveri Bazaar today, Muslims living nearby are not fearful, just aghast at the enormity of the blasts. “You know, after the 1993 blasts we would be scared to wear our fez for the Friday prayers,’’ said Moinuddin Nawab, a resident. “I don’t see the queer looks any more from Hindus and know there are some who don’t want this to go on.’’

Nawab, who runs a shoe shop, knows his Hindu customers will come back to him. “My faith increases by the day,” he said, softly muttering “Inshallah” after that. He said he didn’t want to tempt fate.

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