On the one hand, you have Sushma Swaraj who says the Bangalore blasts and the Ahmedabad blasts were “a conspiracy to divert attention from the cash-for-votes scandal”. Not-so-hidden message: somebody somewhere was out to sully the besmirch the good name of the BJP to save their own.
On the other hand, you also have the heart-warming spectacle of the Surat blasts that weren’t. Last Saturday, the police force of “India’s best governed State” couldn’t spot or defuse one single bomb. On Monday, they were tripping over each other spotting and defusing a couple of dozen of them.
The Surat bombs, all neatly packed in green wrappers, were picked up from trees, from behind signboards, from tree guards, from inside meter boxes, to the applause of spectators gathered around. No one knew where the bombs came from, who planted them, or why they didnt’ go off.
But the important thing is that thanks to the untiring efforts of a few bravehearts, “innocent lives” weren’t lost in the diamond city.
Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group, has done a sterling job of identifiying and saluting the brave men who spotted the bombs. Surprise, surprise, the police were tipped off by a small group of BJP activists with no previous expertise in spotting bombs.
# All hail Bhimji Budhna, BJP corporator and president of the Surat diamond market: He called up the police to alert them about 11—yes, eleven–of the 22 bombs that didn’t explode. He got a call at 10.30 am from “one of my workers” at Shakti Vijay Housing Society. He doesn’t remember his name now. “But if you visit that place anybody will tell you about it.”
# All hail Pravin Bhalala, real estate broker, VHP activist, and president of the Gau Rakshak Suraksha Samiti: “On July 26, I watched the entire coverage of the Ahmedabad blasts. I saw that a Maruti Wagon R car with the ‘CD’ series [registration] was used for one of the blasts. Next day, when I went to Varchcha, I found that three shopkeepers were discussing what to do with a car parked in front of their shops. The number plate was of the ‘CD’ series. I got suspicious and informed the police.”
# All hail Sanjay Kapooria: He doesn’t belong to any political party, but Budhna says “he is one of us.” Kapooria fished out a bomb from a dustbin near his jewellery shop. He then carried the bomb all the way to the nearest police post. Asked if he wasn’t scared of the bomb exploding, Kapooria says: “When none of the earlier 18 bombs had gone off in Surat, I was sure that this too would not. I didn’t fear even once about the bomb that I was carrying.”
What would the fate of the “innocent men and women” of Surat have been without these brave men who risked their own lives for the lives of their brethren? How is it that some men, in this day and age of I-Me-Myself are capable of thinking beyond themselves for the good of society?
As Bhalala is quoted by the paper as saying, this was truly a triumph of community effort.
“We started a campaign asking our members and acquaintances to move around and look for such bombs. We started getting calls from our members and other people, and we kept moving from one place to another informing the police about the bombs.”
Has the shortlist for the 2009 Republic Day honours list for Gujarat become shorter by three names even before the 2008 Independence Day?