Last evening, Belur Math was allegedly rocked by a blast close to the shoe racks which is located close to the entrance of the premises. Some reports describe this as “twin blasts” as two low-intensity crude bombs went off just before the evening prayers somewhere between 5:30 and 5:45 PM. No one was hurt, but the blasts led to the breaking of window panes of the building.
I happened to be there with my family at around 6:15 PM. A Friday and a public holiday, the premises were choc-a-bloc with people. Proximity to the Dakshineshwar Kali temple meant huge crowds on Fridays, since it is considered an auspicious day to worship Kali maa. Rather surprisingly, we had no idea what had happened and did not hear of it during the one hour we spent at the math, barring an observation of high security in the premises. Given that high profile Hindu places of worship have been witness to brutal terrorist attacks in the past (Akshardham temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, Ramjanma Bhoomi temple, Raghunath Temple to name a few), the security did not seem unwarranted or completely out of place. The evening aarti and bhajans were in progress in a room filled with devotees, spilling outside the large hall. The building could not have looked more magnificent and peaceful in the evening light, the full moon shining behind it. It was only later in the night around midnight, a good 6 hours after the blast, that I came to know of what happened via news reports shared on Twitter.
Now, it is possible that the blast was just a loud firecracker, or a prank played by someone seeking attention. It could also have meant to be served as a warning as this report suggests, but I wonder if it was taken seriously enough (as it should have been) or if greater efforts had gone into underplaying the incident and hushing it up by authorities. I am all in agreement of not creating panic among the locals, but is it sensible to keep a blast site open half an hour after an incident? Should the area not have been cleared out, cordoned off and swept thoroughly for the possibility of other explosives? I find it hard to believe that all of this had been carried out within a mere half hour of the incident, and I hope investigations and subsequent reports throw more light on this matter.
Since all the facts are not on the table at this point, let me give the police and security officials the benefit of the doubt. Let’s move over to the media. Many politicians and journalists are brushing off this incident as a minor one that does not warrant the kind of strong reactions it has evoked. And let’s assume for a second that this is true- that the incident was indeed a minor one. What they fail to understand, however, is that it is not the reaction to this ONE incident alone that angers the Hindu public. It is the enormous hypocrisy displayed by the very same people that angers and disgusts us.
Last week, NDTV ran a story repeatedly- that of a church-run school in West Bengal being sent threatening letters. The letters were hand-written and were sent to the school principle, threatening to burn the school down. No actual attempts had been made to harm the students or the establishment, but the channel ran the news repeatedly, linking it to other “Church attacks” the state had been witnessing recently. Earlier, a theft in a Delhi school was blown as “attack” and “vandalisation” by Barkha Dutt, from NDTV and others too. Surely, a bomb blast, albeit a low-intensity one, deserves similar attention? Maybe NDTV believes a letter scrawled with mere words is far more fearful than a bomb blast that didn’t, after all, blow anyone up to smithereens?
And then there are the politicians. Tweets by Derek O Brien below are self-explanatory in their blatant arrogance and hypocrisy.
Rise & shine but… All you Twitter ‘armies’ trying to hype hashtags/trends and making mountains out of mole hills. Go get a life :)
— Derek O’Brien (@quizderek) April 4, 2015
Our PM Narendra Modi himself set a precedent when he publicly asked for a speedy resolution of “church attacks” (which subsequently was found to be a case of petty theft). Will he now be vocal about a speedy enquiry into the Belur math blasts? For his own sake, we certainly hope so.