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Eyewitness account of the terror tragedy in the courtyard of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz.
[Text by Sufi Salman Chishty; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi. The author lives in Ajmer; his picture was taken at Hazrat Nzamuddin.]
[Publisher’s note: Ajmer is 7-hour-long train journey away from Delhi. But what happened in the sufi shrine there cannot be ignored. It can happen again – in Delhi's Hazrat Nizamuddin’s dargah.]
The terrorist attack on the shrine of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer has shaken all of us very deeply. 2 devotees were killed and 17 were injured. Our house, Chishty Manzil, is opposite the blessed Dargah. The balcony gives a very clear view of the Ahata e Noor where this terrible act of violence took place. I was there to break the Ramadan fast with other family members.
We were sitting quietly over the Dastarkhwan as the clock ticked 6:14 pm - the time of breaking the Ramadan fast. I recited the prayer and quickly tucked in a khajoor into my mouth. A bang. So powerful that I could feel the vibrations. I stood up and could not believe what I saw. (Even now it is difficult to believe it actually happened). There was a huge cloud of smoke over the Ahata e Noor and people were screaming, shoving and shouting. I immediately ran towards the Dargah and was shocked and shattered to see what had happened in the blessed “Abode of Peace” .
There was commotion everywhere. People shouted for help. Some said it was a bomb explosion. A few warned to stay away from the scene. Others called for the evacuation of Ahata e Noor. I saw pool of blood, chunks of flesh and blood-soaked bodies. Nothing seemed real. It was like living in a terrible nightmare.
To me, the blessed Dargah of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz is the safest and the most beautiful place on earth. It is here that I was born. Here I spent my growing years. As kids we played and ran across in its blessed compound. Now to witness such terrible violence at the very same peaceful place is something I could never describe with calm.
Nobody was prepared to see such an evening. Nobody knew how to react to such gross act of violence which has never been seen or heard in the 800-year-old peaceful history of Ajmer Sharif. Somehow I gathered strength, along with few of my Khadim brothers and other young men. Despite fears of a second bomb explosion, we all remained in the blast site. I think that was very courageous of the people of Ajmer sharif - a small and peaceful town which had no experience of such terror acts.
We rushed the injured to the hospital. Confusion reigned there also but the experienced doctors and young medical students quickly took control of the emergency. (Dr. Ruqquia Syed, my cousin in her first year of internship, too volunteered). There was not a moment to spare. We ran up and down the floors, made rounds of the blood bank, searched for the stretchers, took the injured for X-ray and C.T. scans. All this we did while reeling under shock, terror and grief.
The Festive Mood is Absent
Tonight, as I’m writing this article, I can see the blessed Dargah Sharif and the lanes surrounding it from my study. Tomorrow is Eid. People should have been busy with last minute shopping, boys should have been waiting outside barber shops, and everyone should have been sporting a festive mood. But they are not. It is gloom instead. Never was the night before Eid so silent. We will observe the festival in a sober manner. Though we have bought new topis and kurtas for those injured who are likely to take part in tomorrow’s prayers at Idgah. They can do better with some smiles.
Alhamdullilah. By the karam of great Awliya Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, the unholy and shameless efforts of the foes of humanity to divide the people of India has availed them nothing so far .There hadn’t been a single incident of backlash or communal tensions in any part of our country which proves again that my Khawaja's India is great.
Let us spread the blessed message of love, peace, beauty and tolerance. Let us follow Gharib Nawaz's words - Love towards All, Malice towards None.