NEW DELHI: In a rare gesture of solidarity, Indian lawmakers and schoolchildren observed a two-minute silence to pray for the victims of Tuesday’s terror attack in which Taliban gunmen systematically killed dozens of students at an army-run school in Peshawar.
Hundreds of children sporting black bands stood in silence, many of them carrying placards expressing solidarity with the people of Pakistan.
“We are protesting against the Taliban attack in Peshawar where schoolchildren lost their lives. All of us are saddened because we are also students and we share their pain and grief,” said Rahul Sharma, a student from Vadodara.
In the aftermath of the attack, which has been termed the bloodiest assault in Pakistan’s history, members of India’s upper and lower houses of parliament, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, observed a moment of silence to mourn the victims of the attack that claimed 148 lives.
Leading the chorus against the attack that sent shockwaves across the world, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the enormity of this crime had evoked global revulsion. Our government has swiftly and strongly condemned this, she further said in a strongly worded statement.
The scale and brutality of the massacre prompted outrage across the social and political spectrum in India, including former chairman of the Tata Group, India’s largest business conglomerate, Ratan N Tata, who condemned the attack saying: “Deepest condolences go out to the families of the innocent students in Pakistan who were shot yesterday in an unforgivable massacre.”
In the wake of the terror attack in Peshawar, the Indian government has directed all states to beef up security particularly in educational institutions.
“An advisory has been issued to the state governments,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters outside parliament.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Indian prime minister also called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and offered “deepest condolences and assistance” in the wake of the deadly assault.
During his telephonic conversation with Nawaz Sharif, the Indian premier said that this moment of shared pain and mourning is also a call for India and Pakistan and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to defeat terrorism.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2014.