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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 July 2006, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
UK communities remember Mumbai
By Anna Browning
BBC News, Watford

On Tuesday bomb blasts on seven trains killed nearly 180 people in Mumbai. Four days later, in a corner of the English countryside, hundreds of British Indians gathered in prayer at a memorial service.

Monks praying
Followers of eight faiths were invited to join the service

Europe's biggest Hindu Temple, Bhaktivedanta Manor, on the outskirts of Watford, invited members of eight faiths - Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Judaism, Sikhism and Zoroastrian - to condemn the atrocity on Mumbai's transport system.

While worshippers prayed to their different gods, all their thoughts were 5,000 miles away with the survivors and families of those who died in the bomb attacks.

Just as the priests of London's St Paul's Cathedral lit candles to mark each of the 7 July bombs, seven candles were lit by faith leaders in Watford to represent each bomb in Mumbai.

Candles were also lit by four young girls, to represent the "four corners" of India.

Later, there was a prayer for world peace: "Let our differences enrich our lives and of those around us, let our similarities be the cause of great joy and celebration.

"In these difficult times, may we stand together."

Gauri Das, spiritual commissioner of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: "The clothes may be different, but the message of God is the same."

Ragri Shah
Many of Ragri Shah's friends and family live in Mumbai

He spoke of India as the land that was "his temple" and the people who were his "deities" and branded the bombings in Mumbai "indiscriminate, cold-blooded murder".

"As a spiritual leader, I have to cultivate tolerance, respect and humility. But I have to say I became very angry, I couldn't control my anger."

He told how a hospital run by his organisation catered for dozens of the critically injured following the bombings and that hundreds of Mumbai citizens had offered blood for "the afflicted".

"They had to turn them away, because they had too much blood," he said.

"No doubt this world will never be perfect, but together we have the opportunity to become perfect people and help to heal the hearts of others."

It doesn't matter what background they come from, these people are committing mass murder
Tarique Ghaffur
Met Police chief

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said they had organised the service because they felt it was important for all faith communities to come together and pray.

"By coming together we are sending them a very strong message, that we won't be divided," he said.

"Having gone through the experience of the 7 July bombings last year, it is also an expression of solidarity from Britain to India."

Coming just a week after the anniversary of the London bombings, those events were never far from people's minds.

'Global threat'

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, the most senior Asian police officer in the UK - and a Muslim - said it was important to keep communities together in the face of such atrocities.

Since 7 July he had been involved in a lot of work with communities across London to "make sure that we keep them on board".

"The vast majority of south Asians condemn what happened here during 7/7," he said.

Prayer service
Hundreds attended the service

"It doesn't matter what background they come from, these people are committing mass murder."

The attacks in Mumbai had not surprised him. "We know that the threat from new terrorism is global and can strike anywhere."

And while Mumbai, like London, has been anxious to get on with its day-to-day life after the bombings, Mr Ghaffur said we should never "minimise" the remembrance of victims and their families.

"Equally, we have to show to the terrorists the resolve in our communities to stick together and return to normal life."

Ragri Shah, from Edgware, north-west London said she had friends and family living in Mumbai, but had been able to contact them and knew they were all right.

"I have been on trains in Mumbai before, and they are packed, even when it's not rush hour.

"To strike at that time mean the intention was to kill and injure the most people. Which is very crude and calculating."




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