MUMBAI: Indian Muslims queued for hours on Wednesday to give blood to their Hindu neighbours wounded in the Mumbai train bombings, in a rare show of harmony in a city with a long history of communal bloodshed.
“We don’t care whether it’s a Hindu or a Muslim who gets our blood as long as we can save them,” said Abdul Khan, one of dozens of Muslim men waiting in line at the blood bank at Siddarth Hospital, near one blast site at Jogeshwari station.
Many see Tuesday’s deadly strikes that killed more than 180 people and wounded more than 700 as the latest in a campaign of violence by militants fighting Indian rule in occupied Kashmir.
This has long fomented suspicions between Mumbai’s Hindus and the minority Muslim population, and often triggered violent rioting.
Mumbai, a metropolis of 17 million people, has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in the past 15 years — the worst a series of explosions in 1993 that killed more than 260 people.
Past attacks were usually blamed on Muslim groups trying to avenge Muslim deaths in widespread religious rioting after Hindu zealots demolished the Babri mosque in Uttar Pradesh.
But such thoughts were far from Pasha Mian Sheikh’s mind when he threw open the doors of the Islamia Arabia Mosque, metres from the tracks near the suburb of Jogeshwari, to offer shelter, food and water to the walking wounded.
“People are trying to break our harmony but they have failed,” he said of the bombers. “Hundreds of Muslims yesterday showed a lot of courage and harmony when they helped out their Hindu brothers. Hindus and Muslims are together in Mumbai.”
Leaders of India’s hardline Hindu Shiv Sena party said they had been overwhelmed by the Muslim response.
“Hindus and Muslims walked hand in hand yesterday,” said Manohar Kargaonkar, a Shiv Sena official.
“When you read a newspaper you always find that a Muslim terrorist is behind subversive activity. But these people have shown what brotherhood is.”
Analysts and community leaders say weariness after decades of conflict as well as rising prosperity from the country’s booming economy have helped cool tempers between Hindus and Muslims.
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.