Catholics Pray For Blast Victims As Mumbai Limps Back To NormalJuly 17, 2006
MUMBAI, India (UCAN) -- Catholic parishes in Mumbai prayed at Sunday Masses on July 16 for all the victims of the recent bomb blasts.
About 200 people were killed and hundreds more wounded on July 11 when bombs exploded at seven local railway stations in the western Indian city.
Soon after the blasts, Auxiliary Bishop Bosco Penha of Bombay, currently administrator of the archdiocese, asked all archdiocesan parishes to conduct special prayers July 15-16 for the victims and their families.
Bombay, 1,410 kilometers southwest of New Delhi, is the old name of Mumbai, India's commercial capital and the political capital of Maharashtra state.
Priests in several parishes began their Sunday services by remembering the blast victims in the introduction to the Mass. The parishes also prayed for the victims and their families in the Prayers of the Faithful.
Meanwhile, members of Bombay Catholic Sabha (council) have visited several hospitals in the city where people wounded in the blasts are being treated. Dolphy D'Souza, the council's president, said he is glad that the monetary compensation announced by the government has already reached many people.
Vilasrao Deshmukh, the state's chief minister, announced that compensation of 100,000 rupees (about US$2,175) would be given to families for each member killed and half that amount to each person wounded in the blasts.
"The government has speeded up the process to provide monetary relief to the victims and their families," D'Souza told UCA News, "but more than that, the families need to be consoled."
The Catholic lay leader also reported that his organization has conducted memorial services for the victims, and its members have made rounds of hospitals and assisted the wounded wherever possible.
"We are happy with the arrangements in hospitals," D'Souza said. "Doctors and medical staff have been working round the clock to treat the injured. Volunteers are making rounds to see where more help may be needed."
His council's members are visiting victims' families of various religious communities. "We visit the bereaved families to comfort them," he said.
According to D'Souza, the council will conduct memorial services at five places in the city on July 18, the eighth day after the blasts.
Maharashtra's chief minister has asked people to observe two minutes of silence that day at 6.25 p.m., the time of the first blast. India's President A.P.J. Kalam is to join a memorial service at a train station that day, too.
Following the blasts, the administration has beefed up security at Mumbai's railway stations. Closed-circuit TV sets have been installed at Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Andheri, Borivli and Bandra stations on the local rail service's Western line, where the blasts occurred. The administration also has deployed policemen in railway stations on all three local lines -- Central, Harbour and Western.
The city was in a panic again on July 15 night after a caller to the police control room said a bomb had been planted at a railway station. "The entire platform was evacuated, trains stopped and sniffer dogs were called in," said Deepa Rajan, a journalist who ran out of the station with other passengers.
She told UCA News that she did not stay back to find out why train services had been suspended. When she reached her newspaper office, she saw TV channels flashing reports of the bomb hoax. "People are on edge, and these incidents only add fuel to their fear," she remarked.
Manju Desai, who traveled with her daughter to Churchgate two days after the blasts, told UCA News that Mumbai's people are on their feet again, "but the scars will be there." The handful of people who boarded the nearly empty train with her that day checked the train coach for suspicious-looking objects.
Bombay Catholic Sabha plans to launch a program to avoid sectarian tension. According to D'Souza, the program aims "to keep the communities united in these times of tribulation."
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN(www.ucanews.com)
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