Yesterday there were three explosions in New Delhi just prior to the Diwali
festival, and at least 50 people were killed. Two explosions were in markets
and one on a bus. These bombings were carried out by Muslim extremists who
are not only against the Indian presence in Kashmir, but are also against
the current tentative rapprochement between India and Pakistan. They also
regard celebrations like Diwali as pagan, and so it is not so surprising
that they chose this time to make this attack, which caused the many
festivities in Delhi to be cancelled.
Many years ago I had the amazing experience of being in India during the
festival of Diwali. This is the Hindu festival of lights, that is analogous
to our Chanukah and Christmas. In Calcutta (Kolkata) Bengal it celebrates
the many-armed Goddess Kali, and there are large plastic inner-lit effigies
of her all over the place. There are large fairs and celebrations and
special food, it was great. I remember that we were held up in traffic and
there was a political campaign going on and the Communists (who have been
the Government in Bengal for a long time) had a rally that night, and so we
simply parked and went for a meal in a small restaurant that was all lit up
with oil lamps. Later on I flew to Poona (Pune) in Maharastra and there we
climbed to the Temple on the top of the hill and looked out over the city
all lit with lamps. It was magical.
There are many Muslims in India (in fact more than in any other country in
the world) and most of them live peacefully there. But, it does not take
much to spark inter-communal clashes, especially since the two groups are
quite distinct, living separately and having different cultures. There is
no doubt that the terrorists hope to initiate such clashes by their acts,
and hope that the Hindus will take revenge against other Muslims. Hopefully
this will not happen.
The Government of Pakistan issued a strong statement rejecting this
terrorism, and severely criticizing the bombings. Perhaps for the first
time the Indian Government will believe them. Just as Israel has with the PA
and the British with Sinn Fein, there have been times when these type of
statements are routinely critical of terrorism, but are not believable.
Until a few years ago there is no doubt that the Pakistan Government was
actively supporting the infiltration of terrorists into Indian Kashmir over
the line of control. The attack two years ago by a group of Muslim
terrorists on the Parliament building in New Delhi was the watershed. It
nearly triggered an all-out war between the two countries, and since then
Pakistan under Gen Musharraf has adopted a hands-off policy. This has of
course not enamoured him to the terrorist organizations, and so there have
also been attacks in Pakistan, including three attempts on Musharraf’s life.
The kind of attacks in Delhi might embitter relations between the two
countries, but if the statement from Islamabad is regarded as sincere, it
could have the opposite effect and help to improve their relations. Now the
Indian Government must find out who did this and break their organization.
In this respect the good relations between India and Israel may be helpful.


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