Written byShalini Ojha ·
Dubai-based Abhinav Chari has stepped out of UAE only twice, and both the times he cheated death.
Recalling his experiences, Chari wondered how is there so much hatred in the world.
Here's his unique story.
On Easter Sunday, April 21, Sri Lanka was hit by the worst terror attack in decades. Six bombs went off, almost simultaneously, in three churches and three luxury hotels. Hours later, two other bombs burst.
In the carnage, over 250 people died.
Chari was in the island country with his wife Navroop for a business trip. The couple, who was raised in Dubai, stayed in Grand Cinnamon Hotel, one of the establishments which were attacked.
He said in the middle of Easter service, the priest asked people to leave quietly as there had been an attack.
By that time, Chari had no idea about the situation's gravity.
"We started noticing a commotion on the roads and decided it was better to go back to the hotel. When we reached there we saw everyone out on the lawn. We thought it was just some sort of security protocol. But soon we got to know this was much more," Chari told Gulf News.
While Chari remained calm, his wife Navdeep said the incident got to her. "I saw the bodies being taken out. I saw the blood. It was too much and I could not believe it was real," she added.
Navdeep said Chari focused on getting into the hotel room and securing their passports. He then surfed through flights bound for UAE.
"Our family and friends who knew we were in Sri Lanka started calling us to check if we were safe. I realized how lucky we had been to escape the blast. But, at the same time, I felt sad for those who had become victims," Navdeep added.
Chari also revealed he was in Mumbai during the attacks. "I was in Bombay in 2008 studying for medicine. It was a horrible 5-6 day ordeal," he said.
He added that something changed after the 26/11 attacks. "It resulted in an increased sense of hate against the Muslim community in Mumbai. Even in our friends' circles, I noticed Muslims were being excluded," he said.
About Sri Lanka attacks, Chari said a place of worship is supposed to be safe. "How do you go back to work or to the restaurants you normally go to, not feeling safe," he asked.
Calling both attacks cases of religious extremism, Chari said people need to respect those whose beliefs are different.
"I am different, you are different," he stressed.
Firstly, I want to inform everyone that Navroop and I are safe - we landed in Dubai a few hours back. Yes we were staying at Cinnamon Grand (one of the hotels under attack) but were not in the hotel at the time of the blast. We are overwhelmed by everyone’s messages and concern for us! . . How do you move forward from here? Personally this really hits me hard as I witnessed the Mumbai attacks back in 2008 and now this. How do you deal with so much hate, how do you recover, how do you go back to work, how do you go back to those restaurants that we normally go to, how do you prevent further hate? Still just reeling with everything and I know how important it is to not to let your emotions (raging anger) to get the better of you but think rationally and help stabilize the situation. Although Mumbai attacks were against Indians and the Sri Lankan attacks against Christians, both of which I identify with very closely; I will not stand for ‘revenge’ or ‘retaliation’, no matter who claims responsibility for these attacks. We all need to individually pursue peace only then can it pass on to a community/country level. #srilankaattacks #mumbaiattacks #striveforpeace
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