Dileep Kumar and Mohammad Mustaqeem have been friends since childhood. Now, in their early-30s, they continue to maintain and value this friendship—albeit they admit it hasn’t been that easy lately.
“There is so much hatred spewed on news channels all the time. That really ruins the atmosphere here. People believe all the mirch-masala that the channels serve,” Kumar said, showing some footage of news channels he has saved on his phone.
“On the day of the demolition here, some news anchors sat inside bulldozers and some others directed them to the shops. It was quite shameful,” Mustaqeem added to Kumar’s point.
But the two, who live in Delhi's Jahangirpuri, try their best to rise above the hatred. "We have to keep the bonds alive, despite all efforts to break it," Kumar said.
Unlike the two friends, not everyone is as optimistic about the effect of hate and polarisation on Hindu-Muslim ties in the area that has witnessed a major communal clash, followed by demolition of multiple shops, in just 10 days' time.
On 27 April, Wednesday, over 10 days after violence broke out in Jahangirpuri on occasion of Hanuman Jayanti, people in the area are still hooked on to their phones for latest updates on the arrests in the case and to find out when police restrictions will be removed from their neighborhood. While the lanes, which were completely locked from both sides have opened up now, there continues to be heavy police deployment on the main roads of Jahangirpuri. The fear that things could still go awry at any point, is palpable.
'Why Can't We Celebrate Our Festivals?'
Residents of the Muslim majority lanes refrained from straying into the Hindu dominated parts of the locality, a local told The Quint.
One of the Muslim residents said, “If we go towards that side (Hindu dominated area), a scuffle might break out.”
The Hindu families too have been harboring a hostile sentiment towards their Muslim neighbors since the day of the violence.
Durga Sarkar is one of the Hindu residents of Jahangirpuri’s G Block whose family members had participated in the Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra and were later arrested. Speaking to The Quint, she said, “All the help is going towards them (Muslims). All the media attention is also going there. Who will listen to our side of the story?”
At least five members of her family were arrested on 19 April, in connection to the violence took place. Among them are her husband Suken Sarkar, and their three sons aged between 17-21 years — all of whom were accused of being a part of violence. Suken’s brother, Suresh Sarkar, was arrested as well but is now out on bail.
Justifying the procession, Durga said they were just celebrating a festival.
“Don’t we have the right to celebrate our festivals in our own country? Why should we live in fear?,” she asked.
'Children Have Internalised Hatred'
For many in Jahangirpuri, the question isn’t just what the violence could do to the nature of the Hindu-Muslim relationships, but also to the children in the area.
“Some children were brandishing swords that day, many others would have been watching the videos of the violence. What impact will this have on them? How are they supposed to just adjust to normalcy after this? That’s not how it works,” said Raju, a shop-owner in the area.
Many videos from the Shobha Yatra on 16 April showed the procession, including children, carrying swords. The Quint had earlier reported how this was justified by the members of the procession as having been done "just for fun."
Raju added that watching this violence play out with their own eyes will lead to children “internalising the hatred.”
“The adults move on in their lives. But when children will see this violence, they will truly start seeing the people from the other community with a sense of hatred, this wouldn’t be good for their upbringing,” he said.
'Jahangirpuri's Reputation is Now Further Stained'
Among Raju's other fears is that Jahangirpuri’s “name and reputation have been further stained” after the violence.
“Jahangirpuri was anyway known as samaj ka ganda kona (the dirty corner of society), and now this will make matters only worse,” Raju said.
Other residents share this fear. Vicky, 26, who has lived in Jahangirpuri with his family all his life, said that he is worried that his life, and those of other residents in the area, will get more challenging hereon.
“Jahagirpuri is infamous for theft and thuggery. Auto walas refuse to come here because of this reputation. And now with the violence, more people will view Jahangirpuri with scepticism. It makes the life of ordinary people like us difficult,” Vicky said.
Vicky, however, attributed the image-problem to "the behavior of those living in C block." The C Block in Jahangirpuri is mostly Muslim-dominated.
"These people..they do a lot of goondapun (thuggery). They ruin our area's name," he said.
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