Hindu-Muslim ties in spotlight in wake of Hyderabad bombings
The city, a center of India's information technology, is a high-profile target.
A pair of coordinated bombings rocked the city of Hyderabad in southern India on Saturday night, claiming 42 lives and heightening tensions between the nation's Hindu and Muslim population, and foreign neighbors with alleged ties to terrorism. Although the government has unofficially pinned the bombings on foreign militants, debate continues about who conducted the attacks and their motives. Despite the bombings, Hindu-Muslim relations in Hyderabad remain peaceful.Skip to next paragraph
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Though the two bombs caused considerable damage, the toll could have been much higher if police had not found and defused 19 more bombs hidden at bus stops, movie theaters, and bridges. "They could have killed hundreds," said Balwinder Singh, Hyderabad's police commissioner. If all the bombs had detonated, authorities believe that the death toll would have exceeded the multiple bombings in Mumbai (Bombay) last year that killed more than 186 people, one of the worst attacks in India's recent history. The Hindu calendar considers Aug. 26 to be an auspicious day, and authorities suspect that the attacks may have been meant to spark conflict between India's Muslims and Hindus, reports The Times, a London-based paper.
Hyderabad is considered a high-profile target because it is a centre of India's burgeoning information technology industry, and is now home to dozens of top Western companies and many foreign executives.
The attack appears to have been designed to provoke a fresh bout of violence between Hindus and Muslims in the city of 6.5 million people, which has one of India's largest Muslim communities. India's population of 1.1 billion is 80 per cent Hindu and about 13 per cent Muslim, but Hyderabad – the 16th-century capital of the Muslim Qutb Shahi dynasty - is more than 40 percent Muslim.
Local Hyderabad officials have said they suspect that terrorist organizations in Bangladesh and Pakistan are responsible for carrying out the attacks, reports The Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper. The federal government, though, has yet to implicate any foreign organizations.
"[Hyderabad's Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara] told newspersons here after an emergency cabinet meeting that terrorist organisations based in Bangladesh and Pakistan were also behind the bomb blast in Mecca Masjid on May 28 in which 11 people were killed," the [United News of India] said.
Anonymous intelligence sources have fingered the Bangladesh-based Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, an Islamic militant organization, as the most likely suspect. Officials accused the same group of bombing a mosque in Hyderabad in May, which left 11 people dead. Over the past year, India has seen numerous bombings, the vast majority of which have been blamed on Muslim extremists with foreign ties, even when the bombings have targeted India's Islamic community, reports The Independent. The Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which is fighting for India's withdrawal from Kashmir, has also been blamed for numerous bombings. Meanwhile, many Muslims have accused Hindu extremists of being the actors behind this weekend's bombings.