Three days after France suffered one of the worst attacks on its soil since 1945, the city of Mumbai stood in solidarity with the victims of the ISIS attack. The citizens of Mumbai have been accused many times for being uncaring as well as cynical, but on November 16th some of them took time from their busy schedules to pay their respects to victims of violence across the world.
1. Churchgate station, one of Mumbai’s busiest locations – saw a disparate group of individuals, professionals and NGOs come together to pay homage to the victims of 13/11. Sudheendra Kulkarni, Chairman of the think tank Observer Researcher Foundation’s Mumbai chapter led the event. He said, “We have come here to denounce violence – those perpetrated by the Islamic State attackers and those that have occurred in other parts of the world too”. The other organisations present were – Bharat Bachao Andolan, Vidyarthi Bharati, Indian Union Muslim League, Hamari Unity Mumbai, Muslim Intellectual Forum and Muslim Youth of India.
2. Saeed Khan, belonging to the NGO Muslim Youth of India, explained his reasons for being there. He says, “The attacks in Paris were a response to the bombings being carried out in Syria. The world is caught in an action-reaction cycle and those who stand for peace need to stand together to put a stop to this vicious circle. We also have to acknowledge that people are dying in different parts of the world – from Lebanon to Nigeria to Gaza. This violence has to stop”.
3. Afaque Azad, a volunteer with the NGO – Bharat Bachao Andolan had brought his guitar along and gave a short rendition of John Lennon’s hit song – Imagine. He said his reason for being there was to show that India recognised the pain of the French people and Indians stood along with the rest of the world in condemning this act of violence.
4. Albeit small in gathering, but with a powerful message, those holding aloft the boards and candles were people who had come together “to say that humanity is the biggest religion”. Dr Dipesh Reddy, with ORF’s Public Health Initiative said he decided to stop outside Churchgate as he wants to start a global movement against terrorism. He also underlined the fact that he had received the message for the event just a couple of hours before and was glad that he could make it, as were others.
Abdul Rehman Qureshi, with the Islamic Monetary Fund summarised the evening with a beautiful couplet.
Ek Lafz Mohabbat Ka, Adna Afsana hai
Simte Tho Dile Aashiq, Faele Tho Zamana Hai
Unka Jo Kaam Hai Wo Ehle Siyasat Jaane
Mera Paigam-E-Mohabbat Jahaan Tak Pahunche