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Diamonds and Religious Tensions May Be Keys to Terrorist Attacks in India

July 22nd 2011

India Topics - Mumbai Massacre

The diamond industry and tensions between the Muslim militant community and the Hindus may be two key elements to understanding the background to the deadly and recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. As Rev. Cedric Prakash, a Catholic priest and Director of the Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace 'Prashant' in Ahmedabad in Gujarat reported, "it is difficult to understand what and who inspired the attacks in Mumbai. The police are working hard. Certainly it is clear that specific business areas were affected, such as those of the diamond trade, in which the population of Gujarat is very present".

According to FIDES news service, Fr. Prakash continued, "It is known, moreover, that the massacres of 2002 in Gujarat, where over 2,000 Muslims were killed by Hindu extremist groups, have not been forgotten by many.

And the authorities as the Prime Minister (at the time and now) Narendra Modi - a leading Hindu nationalist known for his radical positions - has never shown any regret for what happened. Today, ten years after the violence, the victims still want justice. Due to this dissatisfaction, terrorist groups certainly find a fertile ground for their activity."

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in India for talks on issues such as cooperation between India and the U.S., the Indian public attention remains focusedd on the terrorist incidents in Mumbai. The city, the capital of Maharashtra state, besides being the center of high finance and the stock markets of India, is also one of the great capitals of the Indian diamond business, along with Surat, the industrial city of the state of Guajarat.

The attacks hit just a few key places of this diamond industry. A bomb exploded in the Zaveri Bazaar, the center of the diamond and jewelry market, while a second bomb exploded just outside the Pancharatna Tower, where thousands of diamond merchants are located.

It should be noted that 70 percent percent of the world's diamonds are cut and cleaned in India, between Surat and Mumbai. Every year India imports diamonds valued at $11 billion and exports them for $28 billion. Businesses in Gujarati handle most of the Indian diamond and industry trade, from Surat to Mumbai.

The "Indian Mujahideen," the extremist organization suspected of many attacks in the subcontinent and also for the recent bombings in Mumbai, in recent years has found its lifeblood in the reaction to anti-Muslim violence of 2002. According to analysts and intelligence services, it is likely that there may be a link between the diamond industry, popular dissatisfaction and resentment in the Muslim community of Gujarat, which still feels itself the victim of injustice and discrimination.

In order to calm down inter-communal tensions and violence, which often affect both Christian and Muslim minorities in India, the Indian government has drafted a bill to protect ethnic, religious and cultural minorities in India, which should soon come before parliament. 

Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com


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