Cape Town – Capetonians gathered at Siva Aalayam Temple in Rylands for prayer in commemoration of the 44 soldiers killed in what has been described as a terrorist attack in India last week.
Speaking at the event yesterday, at which 44 candles – representing the slain soldiers – were lit and a pledge of support signed, the consul-general of India in Cape Town, Abhishek Shukla said: “On February 14 more than 40 Jawans were killed in a cowardly terrorist attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.
"This heinous and despicable act has been perpetrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation proscribed (denounced) by the United Nations and other countries.”
He said the martyrs were from different parts of India and belonged to the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian faiths.
“The martyred Jawans leave behind an angry, but not weak, nation, since their sacrifice has made us even stronger to deal with the menace of terrorism and bring the perpetrators of this dastardly deed to justice,” he said.
The Indian government was firmly committed to taking all necessary measures to safeguard national security and India’s prime minister warned perpetrators and those aiding and abetting terrorists that they had made a big mistake and would have to pay a heavy price, he added.
He said the people and the government of India had received numerous messages of solidarity with their nation and massive support from friends worldwide who unequivocally and unconditionally condemned terrorism and actors sponsoring and supporting terrorism.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said: “The South African Government condemns in the strongest terms the attack in Kashmir, one of the deadliest attacks on Indian forces in this area for years.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa has, on behalf of the government and people of South Africa, extended our deepest condolences to the government and the people of the Republic of India following the unjustifiable, cowardly attack.”
Dirco said acts of terrorism have no place in society and constitute a threat to development, peace and security.
“The government reiterates its solidarity with the government of India in confronting terrorism and will continue to support regional and international efforts to address the scourge.”
Other speakers at the gathering included the local Sikh community’s Amit Kaur Anand, the Cape Cultural Committee’s Kamini Parag, All India IT Employees Association president Syed Muqeem, Hindu community leader Satish Bhai and Cape Hindu Cultural Society’ Harish Rama.