Cover Story: History Repeats Itself
The Kairana stories are still fresh. The change of demography in many parts of Western Uttar Pradesh, have led to communal tensions and many law and order problems. That led to all over deterioration in socio-economic profile of the region and forced migration. We have seen this trend many a times since Independence. The recent incidences of stopping of aartis during Ramzan in Sunder Nagri of Delhi, forced migration of Hindus from Muslim ghettos of Aligarh and desecration of idols in a temple at Deoband, indicate the same symptoms. Under the garb of pseudo-secularism, if we do not address the issue of demographic imbalance and subsequent law and order issues created by some anti-social elements, we are further going to damage our social fabric and social harmony. Here are the ground reports from three places:
My Tryst with Sunder Nagri
Before last week of June 2016 I never knew that a locality named Sunder Nagri exist in Delhi. Not my fault, Delhi being so big and ever expanding, I believe that you too will not know about each and every locality of Delhi even if you are born and brought up in Delhi.
But as they say destiny has its own play, not only did I came to know about Sunder Nagri, a milestone in my life, I happened to make my first documentary on one of the (unfortunate) incidents which happened in this locality.
Around June 20th, 2016 I saw a post by one of my friends on Facebook that some communal incidents happened in Sunder Nagri between the local Muslims and Hindus. Probing into it I came to know that some local Muslims went in one of the Hindu temples, Maha Shiv Shakti Mandir and they stopped the evening aarti there because it coincided with the evening namaz during Ramazan month.
I was startled to know about this. To me it was a big news and I expected to see the heat of it in the mainstream media of India in next 2-3 days. But, to my astonishment no media covered it. Only one channel Sudarshan News picked this news.
This was a major worrying factor for me in addition to astonishment that a country where one man was killed due to local dispute (Akhlakh) and the whole media went berserk about it and what all drama did not happened during that time. And, here in the heart of the country, in the capital city of India, one community (Muslim) goes to other community (Hindu) and allegedly stops their evening aarti and nobody cares a damn.
I decided to talk to that friend of mine, Hari Mohan Kaushik, who first reported this incident on the social media.
The things he told me next not only worried me but infuriated me as well. He told that after this incident the Hindus of local and neighbouring localities took up the challenge to do the evening aarti in Maha Shiv Shakti Mandir on a particular day, but to their astonishment there was a huge police deployment in the area to ensure there is no mishap. The result was that
people were not able to enter the Sunder Nagri area because of police deployment.
Nonetheless, the aarti took place on that day amidst huge protest by the local Muslims who were stopped by the police just 20 feet of that mandir.
This much was happening right in the city and yet no media was ready to take this issue up. Then I decided I need to do something on this issue.
July 1st, I was there
After coordinating with Hari Mohan, on the evening of July 1st, I reached outside Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital where Hari Mohan along with his friend Ashish Pandit were waiting for me to take me to Sunder Nagri.
We went straight to Maha Shiv Shakti Mandir but what I saw once I reached Sunder Nagri was of major astonishment to me. It appeared as if I was in Pakistan. The whole area was dominated by the Muslims.
We reached the mandir at around 4 p.m., Punditji of the mandir Parvesh Sharma was not there.Meanwhile I went on to meet the local Hindus around the mandir.
The first comment which I heard from the Hindus was, “We are too terrified of this area now”. These people (Muslims) have made our life hell. It is almost impossible to send our daughters out alone. It is so dangerous” complaint one lady who did not want to come on camera, neither she wanted to reveal her identity.
Idols at ancient Shiva temple in Deoband desecrated
Surender Singhal, Deoband
She also told me how by every gone month the percentage of Hindus is decreasing and that of Muslims is increasing. I could see the pain on her face and tears in her eyes which she tried her level best to not let out.
While I was talking to her, I saw a young lad of around 18-20 very suspiciously trying to listen to what we are discussing and why I was there. By that time I also took some shots of the exterior of the mandir from my camera and so it was evident that I was there for a particular reason.
I decided to talk to a young fellow. He was a Muslim and was surprised that I talked to him. However since, he did not showed any enthusiasm to talk to me and wanted to leave, so I let him go.
In the meanwhile another young man named Manoj Sinha whose family had constructed this temple came and met me. We went inside the mandir complex and he looked very worried. The main worry was that such incidents are not new for them, but Police never listened to them. He even showed me the pictures of bones thrown on the terrace of the mandir by some unknown miscreants. He also informed me that at least 5-7 temples have already stopped doing aarti in the area because of this very reason.
After listening to him and talking to Punditji we all went to his house which was only at five minutes walking distance. While we were going there I could see the shops in the way, the car scrap businesses, the people, the locality, all seems to be Muslim dominated. It was an unbelievable scene.
Pundit Parvesh Sharma lives besides a park which is adjacent to one of the masjids of the area. There I talked to Punditji and his wife and a neighbouring lady who was vocal and not afraid of coming on to the camera.
The things which they narrated and the worries which they told me were exactly the same what other people told me. The wrong things happening to them just because they are from a different religion. They were in majority yesterday, and suddenly they have become a minority.
Muslims now comprises of 60 per cent of population according to him. You can listen to what Punditji and his wife spoke in my documentary titled ‘Truth of Sunder Nagri—Are Hindu’s at risk?’ which is on youtube (Youtube link: https://youtu.be/g5yiTv8pesg)
One of the main worry is that women are not safe in the area other than them being bullied from religious perspective. Pundit Parvesh Sharma also told me that it is because of illegal activities which are taking place in this area.
And, this is not for the first time something like this has happened on religious grounds in the area. It happened three years back as well.
When I enquired how much support he is getting from the police and administration, he said, “First police did not heed to our pleas, but once the matter reached the Home Ministry, Rajnath Singh is monitoring the whole issue himself, police is here at the time of the evening aarti.”
He is very sure that the way things are happening in this area more Hindus will move away from here.
For me this was too much to hear. I still cannot believe what I listened and witnessed. Sunder Nagri is no Kairana, it is not West Bengal or Assam or Kerala or Kashmir for that matter. It is Delhi, the capital city of India. The centre of politics and power in India, and it is happening right here, and nobody says anything.
Even the local MLA who happens to be an Aam Aadmi Party leader is least concerned about this matter of grave importance. And, irony is that Sunder Nagri is that very place where politics of Arvind Kejriwal took its inception.
Had in this incidents the characters would have reversed people like Arvind Kejriwal and main stream media would have shown the world how much in danger are minorities under current Hindu government of India.
Just then I heard another azan freely flowing in the air.
I wanted to meet more people and investigate further. Thus, next person I met was Rajendra Mavi, founder of Pathik Seva Sansthan.
What he told me further established the fact that many things are not good for the overall sanctity and cultural balance of this area. As per him the things are far from ‘out of control’ now. He also told me that many of the young Muslims lads of the area are actively involved in ‘love jihad’. The Hindus of the area are not safe and more Hindus will leave this area in near future was the bottom line by him.
By this time, around 7 a.m., I decided to go and meet the Muslims of the area as without talking to them the whole exercise of my coming here and doing investigation would have failed.
Meeting the Muslim community in the Masjid Nabvi
While walking towards the biggest masjid of the area, Majid Nabvi, at one point I could hear azans from three masjids. I was astounded that in this area while azans are all freely flowing there is a restriction to aartis of the mandirs. And, then we have many pseudo-seculars who are really scared of rising Hindutva in this country.
Anyway, I reached the masjid and they were preparing for the last namaz of the day. So, I had to wait outside the masjid. I decided to shoot some footage for the documentary of the neighbouring shops and businesses.
This is when I started garnering real attention of the locals. Within five minutes I had a crowd of around 50-70 curious men enquiring about what I was doing and why I am shooting the film. They all seemed to be friendly but overall in the undertones it was tension.
Then suddenly a young Muslim boy Kaamil, who was coincidentally studying mass communication and more coincidentally having his father’s shop next to the masjid, came to my rescue. It’s not that I was in some kind of
danger or feeling same, he and his father being a good samaritan asked me to wait inside their shop instead on the street.
“See the locals are very curious because of the last week’s issue. And already one communal news channel has come here and showed a biased and false report”, Kaamil’s father told me in his shop while offering me water and cold drink.
Dr Yakoob, who happened to be a property dealer of the area, was the person whom I could meet in the masjid. I was surrounded by about 30 curious fellows while I was talking to him.
The middle aged man told me that, “The Hindus and Muslims of Sunder Nagri are living in a proper communal harmony. There is no tension as such, neither do they touch our masjids nor we touch their mandirs. It is some outsiders who want to create communal tension here.” When I confronted about the incident that happened two weeks ago, he replied, “There might be one or two boys who might have created nuisance. But then there can be rotten apples anywhere”.
He emphasised and the crowd around echoed, that the Hindus and Muslims are both living in harmony, there in no religious bullying. As per him, there are some miscreants (mostly Hindus, he did not said this upfront but was very diplomatic in saying this) who want to disrupt the communal balance of peaceful Sunder Nagri.
Despite the fact that the Muslims in Sunder Nagri say that there is no confrontation between the Hindus and the Muslims my point is that why the aarti in the mandirs is being done under the security of the police whereas no security is required for the namaz at the masjids.
(The writer is an independent documentary creator and youtube blogger. You can follow him on twitter (http://twitter.com/nationalistRavi) or write to him at [email protected])