Fifty-eight Hindu activists were burned alive on a train in India last month in a Muslim attack. The train incident has since set off a wave of Hindu riots in the state of Gujarat in India that have left over 700 people, mostly Muslims, dead.
But Muslims and Hindus at the University united last night at a candle-light vigil on the Diag to demonstrate their solidarity, to pay homage to the victims and to ask the government of India to bring the perpetrators to justice. The vigil was sponsored by the Muslim Students Association, the Hindu Students Association and the Association for India’s Development.
A joint statement was read by the three sponsoring organizations expressing disapproval for the recent wave of violence and urging the government of the State of Gujarat to take action.
“It is indeed a sad situation when a government cannot protect its own citizens – when its corruption and prejudice fuel and sanction large-scale rioting and violence against a minority community,” the statement read.
The statement also expressed disapproval toward the perpetrators of the recent attacks.
“Our religions do not teach us to be intolerant – our scriptures do not encourage us to hate and kill our neighbors. Muslims and Hindus have lived together in peace and harmony before, and we will continue to do so, as we manage some mutual understanding and tolerance.”
The Association for India’s Development will use portions of the statement to send an appeal to the Indian government.
Keran Basha, a junior in the Business School and vice president of the Muslim Students Association, said the main purpose of the vigil was “to have two student groups on campus come together and take a humane stance on an international tragedy.”
“As Muslims and Hindus we condemn the violence and we urge the Indian government to reinstate peace and ensure the protection of it’s minorities,” he said. “We’re here to condemn violence on both sides.”
Hindu and Muslim prayers were also recited at the vigil in memory of the victims of the attacks.
Muslims, Hindus, and others attended the candle-light vigil.
Mohsen Nasir, an LSA senior, said he attended the vigil to express his disapproval toward the violence.
“I feel that there are atrocities coming on both sides,” he said. “I think students should take a stand … killing isn’t the way to solve things.”
The vigil also worked to create a greater awareness of the recent incidents in India.
“Without stuff like this, people don’t really think about (incidents like these), especially when the U.S. isn’t involved,” Business senior Milan Guptal said.
LSA senior Kunjal Dharin, said even a small ceremony such as this has an impact.
“Anytime the Muslim and Hindu communities can come together, it’s a start,” he said.