Monday, August 15th, 2022 05:42:25

Riots And Wrongs

Updated: August 16, 2014 4:58 pm

If you live in a Muslim-dominated area in present day in Uttar Pradesh, you have to carefully mind how you conduct yourself religiously. Even if you don’t live in a Muslim-majority area, during Ramzan or any other Muslim festival, you need to be extra careful of your religious conduct. Neglect this advice, and you are inviting a backlash on yourself and after that you shouldn’t complain. The same advice is being given to the Sikh community of Saharanpur: no matter the court verdict, if the Muslims of the area feel that a property is disputed, then it is disputed, and the rest of the society needs to learn to live with it.

A Sikh Gurudwara had a vacant plot next to it. According to land records, the land belonged to the Gurudwara. 10 years ago, a court case was filed saying that the land is next to a Muslim mosque and should not be considered as owned by the Gurudwara. However, the local court ruled in favour of the Gurudwara in 2013. On the day of the riot, Sikh Gurudwara management started constructing an extension on that vacant plot which angered the local Muslim community, which soon gathered and started pelting stones at the Gurudwara and a full blown riot happened.

The Muslims are calling the property “disputed”, hence the entire media, who by the way, are very reluctantly covering the riots, started calling it a disputed property. This was very predictable, a very routine reaction from peddlers of secularism, who invariably propagate that the only community that needs to assert itself is the Muslims, and every other community is either harassing Muslims, or inadvertently stepping into a troubled territory.

Sikhs, being a minority themselves, haven’t incurred as harsh a reaction as it would have been if a temple rather than a Gurdwara was on the adjoining plot. One of the local elders who is over 90 years of age told on camera that there hasn’t been a mosque in the area for as long as he has lived. Both the aggrieved communities are minorities. Had it been a Hindu-Muslim clash, there would have been an onslaught of the grievous, graphic details of how Muslims were being butchered by the rampaging Hindu mobs led by the BJP and the RSS. In any case, the media is still trying to give this spin to the entire development one way or the other, but so far they are unable to let their imagination run wild the way they would have liked it to run.

Just in a matter of a few minutes, a strong crowd of around 500 Muslims started pelting stones at the Gurudwara and when their thirst for throwing stones was quenched (and when the Sikhs started retaliating, the crowd moved towards Ambala Road, setting fire to Sikh-owned shops, service centres and stores. A massive crowd of 25,000 Muslims set ablaze more than 100 shops and buildings including a fire station. Many unsuspecting buses, trucks and vans were also torched.

The Sikhs complain that while the administration kept convincing them that the law and order situation would soon be brought under control and therefore, the community shouldn’t retaliate, thousands of Muslims were pouring into the area from adjacent towns and cities. “As if it was a conspiracy to keep us distracted while the Muslims gathered strength,” one of the local Sikh shopkeepers complained. The policemen fled when they saw such a big crowd approaching the area, leaving the local Sikhs to their fate.

Recently, there was a big hue and cry over the installation of a loudspeaker in a Kanth temple because it disturbed Muslims during Ramzan. There was another controversy when the Muslims of an area complained that the bells of a Hindu temple were purposely rung loudly to cause annoyance to the Muslims of the area. If this is the case, if they get disturbed when other communities practice their own religions, then what about the Hindus practicing their religion and getting disturbed by the azaan on loudspeakers multiple times in a day? What about the throngs of Muslims who gather on the roads every Friday and cause massive traffic jams in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. Do people complain? They have simply gotten used to the phenomena because there is no other choice.

An average Muslim gets the message that no matter what he or she does, the sympathy is always on their side and it’s always the other side that is painted black. They are the ones who are constantly victimised and their rage is always justified. They are the ones who are always at the receiving end. They are the ones who always need protection, accommodation, reassurance and a great level of understanding. They are the ones who should constantly be listened to and it’s their writ that must run no matter how irrational, intolerant or violent it is. They act like spoilt brats, and a lot of blame lies in the way the rest of the society mollycoddles them.

It’s high time they get the message that it is actually a pluralistic world we’re living in and that we all have to live together whether they like it or not. Just as they are not going anywhere, the rest of the communities too aren’t going anywhere. Muslims need to learn to deal with that.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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