who is nearing sixties, is feeling low since last few days.
A doctor by
profession, he is suddenly contemplating shifting to his paternal
home in Jama Masjid area from his own flat in Rohini. In fact it was
only a few years ago that he had purchased this flat despite
opposition from his other relatives.
To be very frank
the recent developments in his own neighbourhood have left him
completely devastated. He had not imagined in his wildest dreams
that many of his own neighbours - who were regular visitors to his
house as well as clinic - would have no qualms in raising slogans
which stigmatised the whole minority community.
It was true that
in this part of Delhi, people owning allegiance to his faith - who
were not in significant numbers - had to travel a few kilometres
just to offer Namaz on special occasions. And during the time of
Ramzan when people fasted for the whole day, it became further
difficult to do so. Sometime back the government had agreed to the
proposal put forward by a local organisation for a mosque and had
granted a piece of land in the area. Many community members in the
area had contributed wholeheartedly and a token amount was deposited
with the government in lieu of the piece of land.
shivers to think if the police had not shown enough alertness what
could have happened on the day when people had gathered there to
offer Namaz (Friday, 26 th June 2009). It was a mere coincidence
that he was away on that day and had gone to meet his relatives in
the other part of the city. Although he had noticed the manner in
which Hindutva forces had become hyperactive supposedly to stop the
construction of the mosque, it was beyond his comprehension that
they would resort to violence.
He was also told that fanatic elements
also attacked a man in his cutting saloon. And the most tragic part
of the whole episode was that many youth from a poor neighbourhood
which housed many victims of the tragic 1984 riots were also to be
seen in the melee. The only
silver lining to the otherwise disturbing situation was the manner
in which few ordinary people who stood the ground and resisted the
lumpens who were attacking innocents and talked of unity of all
As of now there
is calm in the area but it seems deceptive. Police is vigilant and
is taking extra precaution but mischievous forces may again become
active to keep the tensions high. Nobody can deny that they are more
keen to keep the pot boiling. It was no coincidence that a temple
'came up' suddenly one night on a piece of government land, near the
mosque itself. And a 'bhandara' was also organised at this temple
supposedly to mobilise people. This temple was in addition to many
other illegally constructed temples which have come up in recent
times in the area (Rohini Sector 15, 16, 17 and others) by
encroaching public land. Few such temples have even proved to be
moneyspinners for their promoters
For outsiders the
manner in which communal forces have become active in a middle class
dominated area of Delhi may sound incomprehensible. But close
watchers of the situation know the desperation in the ranks of the
pro Hindutva forces when the results to the elections to the
parliament were out. To the surprise of all, this area which use to
be a stronghold of the saffrons, registered more votes to the
Congress candidate vis-a-vis the saffrons. And thus apart from the
national context where the saffrons faced humiliating defeat, the
sense of vengeance among them had an added local context.
However, can it
be said that this is for the first time that Delhi has witnessed
such majoritarian attempts to deny even the constitutionally granted
right to freedom of religion. It was only last year that a church in
Delhi was attacked by the Hindu Right (Delhi church attacked 2 weeks
ago, cops mum, Times of India, 4th Oct 2008).
New Delhi: The fanatical Hindu mobs have struck in the Capital. And
the police has kept it under wraps. A good fortnight ago, a mob
attacked a handful of Christian families at the Peeragarhi Relief
Camp and demolished the frontal portion of the Christian prayer hall
in the camp.
This camp in west
Delhi is barely 15 km from Parliament House. To this day, this group
of Christians is holding weekly mass with police protection. The
families say they are living in constant fear of local miscreants
allegedly owing allegiance to ''some religious organisations'' who
accuse them of carrying out ''forced conversions'' and threaten to
''take away'' their daughters unless they ''mended their ways.''
The mob had
struck on September 16. Despite repeated attempts, the community has
not managed to get a FIR registered for what they call ''vandalism''
and police describe as ''regular land dispute''.
the priest-in-charge of the prayer hall says that a day before the
actual demolition, he had got a call from an unidentified caller
saying that the roof of the hall had collapsed.
went to rebuild it when suddenly this mob of 500 reached the place
carrying saffron flags and sticks. They started pelting stones that
left six people injured. There were anti-Christian slogans and then
they demolished part of the hall. Policemen just looked on. On
hindsight I realised that they had damaged the roof to create a
situation that could later be used as an excuse for unrest.'' He
added that despite repeated attempts the local police station
refused to lodge a FIR but gave the community protection.
Sharad Aggarwal denies any religious angle in the unrest. ''It was
entirely a land dispute,'' he claimed. ''The Christians were trying
to extend the prayer hall beyond the boundary wall which is when
locals objected. There was an agitation but everything was under
control because we were right there when it happened. There was no
demolition and we have given them police protection.''
The MCD, which is
the sole body that can carry out demolitions, is not aware of any
unauthorised construction here. MCD commissioner K S Mehra said he
was unaware of the incident. A MCD spokesman, however, said that the
police or anyone else is not authorised to carry out demolitions.
''We carry them out and ask for police protection,'' he said.
A similar piece
of news was reported from Dilshad Garden, Delhi when thirty Hindutva
extremists had disrupted the prayer service of St. Sebastian Church
on February 23, 2008 in Dilshad Garden, Delhi. Fr. Antony William,
the priest of the church had told Christian Legal Association that
they had prior information that local goons might attack the church,
and had requested police protection for the Sunday worship service.
However, the attack came after the worship service concluded and the
constable had left the premises. The Hindutva extremists, who had
been hiding in a nearby temple, came to the church and started
shouting anti Christian slogans and disrupted the prayer service.
The miscreants resorted to stone pelting at the vehicles belonging
to the congregation members. Nobody was injured in this incident.
The concerned police station was duly informed and a case was
registered under Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code.
It need be noted
that the day after the incident in Rohini, many citizens and
political groups in the area organised a meeting to take stock of
the situation and decide an appropriate response to the machinations
of these anti-human forces. They have already sent a memorandum to
the higher authorities - signed by many residents of the area as
well as few resident welfare associations - communicating to them
that they do not approve of such actions by the fanatic forces to
vitiate the atmosphere. They have also demanded that administration
maintains extra vigilance so that these mischievous forces are not
allowed to raise their head again.
memorandum can also be said to be an open appeal to all
people/formations yearning for secularism and democracy.
Isn’t it high
time to understand that political defeat of an idea like Hindutva in
an election does not necessarily mean its social defeat? And the
recent developments in Rohini suggest that such forces can utilise
every other opportunity to further polarise the situation and try to
capitalise it politically.
remembers the famous poem by the legendary poet Gorakh Pandey: 'Is
saal Danga bahut hua, bahut hui hai khoon kee baarish, agle saal
acchi hogi fasal matdaan ki' ( This year there were many riots, much
blood got spilled, next year it would reflect in voting).
The author can be contacted at