TEN days after a series of blasts at the famous Bodhgaya temple complex in Bihar, India, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has yet to come up with any lead on who was responsible for the dastardly deed.
All that it has produced so far is a sketch of a person moving suspiciously in the area before the July 7 incident.
Indian authorities should expedite investigations and nail down the culprit or culprits in the shortest possible time.
As long as the identity or identities are not known and the motives for the heinous act are not established clearly, rumours and suspicions will continue to gain momentum.
They will poison relations between Buddhists and people of other faiths not only in India but also in other parts of the world.
All places of worship should be protected and respected. This is why in 2002 the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) launched a worldwide campaign to protect all places of worship.
A convention was drafted for this purpose. Though a number of prominent personalities such as Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire and renowned faith-based organisations from all major traditions, endorsed the convention, its impact was limited.
As a place of worship and sacred site, the Bodhgaya temple that houses the holy bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, and the massive Mahabodhi statue of the Buddha, has an exalted status in Buddhism.
It is highly revered by Buddhists all over the world. Unesco had named it as a World Heritage site in 2002.
It is a shame that whenever the sanctity of a place of worship or a sacred site is violated, not many organisations or personalities from other religious backgrounds openly condemn the sacrilege.
Most of the time, we appear to be concerned with only our own community and its symbols and institutions. This is an attitude that should change.
To paraphrase the illustrious 13th century Muslim poet-philosopher Shaikh Saadi, it is only when we feel for the suffering of the other that we can call ourselves human.
DR CHANDRA MUZAFFAR
International Movement for a Just World