Hindu and Muslim Indians rush to help Jaipur blast victims

JAIPUR, India Wed May 14, 2008 9:25am EDT

Related Topics

JAIPUR, India (Reuters) - When Indian television news broadcasts appealed for blood donors on Wednesday, a day after 63 people were killed in bomb blasts in India's Jaipur city, Yaseef Khan rushed to help.

Khan insisted that someone check his blood type and use his blood to save a child, joining hundreds of volunteers in other hospitals in the historic city queuing to help the blast victims.

"How can I sit at home when people are crying for blood?" Khan said.

Both Muslims like Khan and Hindus united on Wednesday to help victims of the bomb blasts, offering the use of their mobile phones, and distributing food and fruit juices as relatives swarmed hospitals of Jaipur from the early hours of the morning.

Authorities say they do not know who planted the bombs but analysts and diplomats say Islamic militant groups in both Pakistan and Bangladesh seem intent on fanning hatred between Muslims and Hindus in India.

If true, it was an effort which failed on Wednesday and has been unsuccessful in recent years despite a series of attacks on mosques and Hindu temples.

"Bombs cannot divide the Hindus and Muslims, it never succeeded and people should know that it is not going to work," Sohail Illyas, a Muslim man who lives in the walled city, said after meeting his Hindu neighbor following the blasts.

FREE MEDICINE

In one Jaipur hospital, hundreds of young men and women volunteers came forward to help as close relatives of bomb victims poured in.

Authorities had imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew in parts of Jaipur after the blasts which injured 216, but many hospitals are outside the curfew areas and volunteers were given permission by police to travel through the curfew areas.

Asha Sharma, 32, was relieved when a young man came to her with his mobile phone, insisting that calls were free.

"I was wondering how to inform mother that papa is all right, now I am happy," she said in Jaipur's main hospital.

Volunteers from the Sant Nirakari Mandal, a local voluntary organisation made up of both Hindus and Muslims, distributed free medicines to patients who could not afford them.

"We have also handed over 300 packaged fruit juices to the hospital for patients," K.K. Joshi, a senior volunteer said.

Many were seen helping the police in mortuaries, counting bodies and putting them into waiting vans, as people thronged the mortuaries in an effort to get the bodies of their relatives.

In another hospital, 29-year-old Nirender Singh, invited everyone to his tea stall for a free cup.

Doctors and bomb victims were glad for his generosity.

"We managed to save at least 150 lives last night because of help from these unknown people," Rakesh Sharma, an orthopedic surgeon said.

"When the victims started to arrive in swarms, we were getting scared, but not anymore."

(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Valerie Lee)

FILED UNDER: