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Hyderabad blast and Bangladesh

The other day I was chatting with a friend from Hyderabad on Google Talk. After finishing all the friendly chitchat, I asked her about the Mecca Masjid bombing that took place on 18 th May. As a reply she said, "The police here believe that some Bangladeshi terrorists were behind the blast. It has created a big hype…."

Her words caught me by surprise. It was the first time when I heard that India was tagging the culprits as Islamic extremists from Bangladesh. It was before the accusation became public in Bangladesh, so I didn't even know what to say to my Indian friend in reply. Instead I requested her to send at least one web link to a newspaper story on this. After a few minutes she sent me a link from the official website of The Times of India (TOI).

The article boggled my mind. It said that the bomb blast was masterminded, executed and detonated (with the help of a mobile phone) from Bangladesh! It also said that the first footage was televised on a Bangladeshi TV channel called "Bangla 24" about 15 minutes after the blast. Bangla 24, now what's that? I had never heard of any such Bangladeshi television channel. The first thing that I did after I finished reading the article was search for this so-called TV channel on Google. However, I could not find a single web page that linked to this television channel that our neighbours considered with so much of importance. As I shared with my friend the search result, I also requested her to search for Bangla 24 from her own PC. It was no wonder that she too couldn't find a single site that talked about Bangla 24. My friend was baffled, wondering what was really happening.

I immediately wrote a note to the Editor of The Times of India, saying that no such television channel officially exists in Bangladesh and that they should have checked the authenticity of the source before printing such news. Also, that it was not professional for such a prestigious newspaper to write about an allegation that the Indian police had made without any proof… Of course, I never heard back from the TOI's Editor…

India has always been known as a longstanding friend of Bangladesh. The citizens of this country will never forget India's contribution in their fight for freedom. It indeed hurts when such a friend points the finger and says without specific evidence that Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami (HuJI) activists masterminded the explosion.

It has become a fad to label any terrorist as an Islamic extremist. What we time and again forget is that there are radicals all over the world; there are religious as well as political extremists. Extremists are not always followers of Islam. Doesn't India have Hindu radicals in its own country? Of course, it does. Furthermore, it wasn't the first time that a mosque fell under attack in India. The Babri mosque incident still remains as a big example of religious intolerance in India. Moreover, there are extremists in all religions.

At a time when Bangladesh is trying its best to deal with religious extremism, such an allegation demeans its effort to fight terrorism. When such a serious allegation is made without any proof, it doesn't reflect a very neighbourly attitude. Coming to a conclusion without proper investigation is certainly neither diplomatic nor journalistic it always carries the risk of influencing the friendly relationship that exists between the two nations.

Bangladesh and India being neighbouring countries, it's even more important for both the nations to maintain peace and harmony between them. Our cultural similarities with India also draw us closer to it than most other nations of the world. Religion plays little or no role when Pohela Boishakh is celebrated with equal festivity in Kolkata and Bangladesh. In addition to being Bangladeshis, we are also Bangalis an identity that we share with our neighbours in Kolkata.

I recently visited New Delhi and Faridabad on a regional youth leadership conference, and I brought back with me many sweet memories. I was impressed with the warmth and hospitability of the common people of India. I was more than overwhelmed to see my old Indian friends, one of whom came all the way from Kerala to New Delhi just to meet with us. I believe that such friendship should not just exist on an individual but also on a national level.

The age of globalisation has increased the need for better diplomatic relations between nations. Even the most powerful country of the world cannot march alone. In short, no nation can survive by itself in the modern world. In some way or the other it needs to depend on others to flourish. From this understanding, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) was established in 1985. It should be each and every South Asian country's responsibility to live by the values of it. And India being a growing power in the global economy, we certainly expect it to show us the right direction to economic and political success.

Terrorists do not belong to any country, class or creed. And it's our responsibility to fight them together. Instead of accusing each other of terrorist attacks, we should work side by side to uproot political and religious extremism from the ground of South Asia.

Therefore, whenever a country undergoes a terrorist attack it should at first try to identify the possible internal causes of it before pointing the finger at its neighbour. Print and electronic media can play a vital role in promoting good spirit between nations. Instead of publishing negative news and instigating negative sentiments between neighbours, the Indian media should write stories that promote friendship. Many regional seminars and conferences that take place between India and Bangladesh often remain suppressed or neglected in the Indian media. We believe that such positive efforts should get more coverage. Of course anything that is bad should also come in the media but that too should be written after sufficient research to avoid unwanted bitterness. Bangladesh certainly doesn't want its longstanding friend to make any allegation against it without proper investigation and specific evidence.

By Wara Karim



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