Opinion: A Cause for Comfort; the Bombers Failed in Their Goal-To Foment Violence between Hindus and Muslims

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CORRECTION: CORRECTION: In Shekhar Gupta's original submission of the story "A Cause for Comfort" (July 24), Gupta wrote, "They [terrorists] bombed Jama Masjid, the stately 17th-century mosque in old Delhi ... " Unfortunately, due to an editing error, the sentence was changed to "Hindu fanatics bombed the Jama Masjid." NEWSWEEK regrets the error.


Byline: Shekhar Gupta is editor-in-chief of the Indian Express newspaper.

Unlike the 9/11 attack, or the London bombings, terror strikes in India are not directed at some evil global power or at its symbols. Nor are they committed to support the Palestinian or even Kashmiri cause, or to exact revenge for the occupation of Iraq. Their central purpose, always, is to strike at India's homegrown notion of secular nationalism. Last week's bombings targeted middle-class Mumbai. Most of the people who ride in "first-class" train compartments in the city come from traditional business communities. They are upper-caste Hindu--and also, largely, Gujarati. That's important, for the large-scale killing of Muslims in Mumbai's neighboring western state of Gujarat, in 2001, is a blot on India's democracy, and a permanent scar in the minds of Muslims. There is nothing terrorists want more than to rekindle that same madness. A Hindu-Muslim riot damages India as nothing else can.

A quick listing of recent targets is telling. Terrorists hit one of the holiest temples of the Hindus, in Varanasi. They attacked the controversial Ramlala (Infant Ram) temple at Ayodhya, where a Muslim mosque had been demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, resulting in India's last widespread Hindu-Muslim riots. Both attacks were preceded by serial bombings in New Delhi's bustling bazaars, during the same week as the Eid and Diwali festivals, the year's biggest for Muslims and Hindus, respectively. …