Protests mark

CALCUTTA, India (AP) — With worries growing about India’s nuclear capability, 250,000 people jammed the streets of Calcutta on Thursday to say they don’t want Hiroshima’s tragedy of 53 years ago repeated in South Asia.
The demonstration was the world’s largest marking the day the first atomic bomb was dropped. In Hiroshima, Japan, a crowd of 50,000 people clasped hands in prayer and observed a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. — the exact time the United States dropped the bomb that devastated their city Aug. 6, 1945. Peace activists in Oak Ridge, Tenn., noted the World War II anniversary with a demonstration outside the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that supplied uranium for the bomb.
The huge Calcutta protest against India’s decision to go nuclear was a sign that Indians’ initial euphoria over the May nuclear tests has been tempered by the sobering impact of economic sanctions and heightened tensions with Pakistan.
Celebrities and writers joined a throng of factory workers and students in a three-mile march in Calcutta. “We don’t want the bomb! We want peace!” the crowd chanted as it assembled in a Calcutta sports stadium.
Smaller anti-nuclear demonstrations were held throughout India.
In Pakistan, which followed India into the nuclear age with tests of its own, only a few hundred people joined protests in the three largest cities, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The smaller size of the demonstrations reflected most Pakistanis’ belief that a nuclear bomb is their only defense against their more powerful rival, India.
In a speech this week, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared that India would not be the first to use nuclear weapons, dropping his previous linkage to a reciprocal declaration by Pakistan.
But Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi told foreign reporters that Pakistan would not respond in kind. “We have a problem with that, being the smaller power,” he said. Nuclear weapons provide “a measure of strategic parity and a credible defense against a larger country.”