The minority bias
The ilks of Ram Lal must be stunned at the institutionalized minority bias
FREEZE FRAME BY SYEDA AFSHANA
The night was cold. He wasn’t feeling well. Inspite of the shivering cold, he woke up in the morning to offer prayers in the nearby Shiv temple. Dawn wore a gloomy look. The ambience seemed atrocious. He could see nothing but thick smog that irritated his eyes. It was unusual; he had not heard Azaan (Muslim call for prayers) from the mosque situated on way to Shiv temple. As a mark of reverence and veneration, he used to bow his head the moment he passed by the mosque. This he had been doing since years.
However, this was an atypical dawn. As he was nearing the mosque, he witnessed few people talking loudly on the roadside. He wore his glasses with his frail hands just to see a plain ground with a tin board painted “DDA Property” at the site of mosque. He was shocked and equally confused, and with a sense of profound grief he hugged the Muezzin of the mosque, his old pal, and whispered-“This is not fair, it should not have happened in the country of Gandhi and Azad. I feel sorry”. The aged Muezzin replied poignantly-“Ram Lal, without letting us know anything about it, these DDA (Delhi Development Authority) people have grounded this mosque and took the debris away during night hours”.
That bleak morning, Ram Lal did not go for worship to Shiv Temple. He couldn’t move beyond the rubble. He stayed back with the people at the demolished mosque and networked to gather more people from his community to show solidarity with the enraged people. Gradually, the crowd began swelling and people from various parts of Delhi assembled near the site of demolished mosque. However, the scene did not turn ugly as it was not something that could incite inter-community tension. People demonstrated matchless communal harmony and unanimously voiced their disapproval over the DDA action. Ram Lal alongwith a few members of the mosque committee went to DDA office. He was disgusted and furious. A weird kind of mood weighed him. Just on entering the office of the concerned officer, Ram Lal folded his hands and started humbly-“Sir, I am witness to Indian independence and partition as well. At the time of partition, I persuaded and held back many of my Muslim friends from migration. It was simply by giving them assurance about their safety and religious freedom....” He was brashly interrupted by the officer-“The religious structure was built illegally on DDA land and was demolished after a committee approved it”. “My son”, Ram Lal retorted back- “I am a freedom fighter, and we have given tremendous sacrifices to build this nation, the one that is presently meshed up in scams and scandals. Corruption and dishonesty has eroded the sanctity of this country. Can we afford more tensions at this juncture? You should have exhibited some sense of sensitivity over this issue”. “But we had court orders to do so”-answered the officer. “Look my dear, you could have issued notice of demolition to the mosque committee before actually knocking down the mosque”, Ram Lal said to the officer and added- “I have been seeing this mosque standing there since many years, and as far as I know, the religion of Islam does not allow any mosque to be built on encroached or illegally occupied land; not even a single brick that has been acquired illegally can be used in its wall”. The officer was unmoved, turning a deaf ear to all his words, and in fact sneered at Ram Lal consistently as he was speaking.
Disappointed and disillusioned, Ram Lal put his head down in dismay and left the office. He reached home with unease surrounding him glaringly. He lied down on his bed, lost in strange thoughts. “Baba, you had nothing since morning, have a cup of tea”, said his daughter. Before he could hold the cup, a loud thud rocketed outside. A clatter of something like a blast scared them. It was a tear gas shell fired on the protesters who were protesting the demolition of mosque. “People haven’t yet forgotten some historical blunders. And this country is breeding more hatred and hostility. Radical mind-set is getting strong. How unfortunate”, Ram Lal said, while peeing through the windowpane, to his daughter.
Next day morning, the 13th of Jan 2011, Ram Lal couldn’t wake up early. There was no Azaan. The whole locality was sunk in silence. Glancing through the morning newspaper, he read out the front-page news that reported, “Mosque demolition causes protests, jams: Jangpura, near Nizamuddin in southeast Delhi, virtually turned into a mini-battlefield on Wednesday with riot police lobbing teargas shells and wielding lathis to disperse a large number of people protesting against the demolition of a mosque.....”(Times of India).
“Unwarranted, uncalled for”, Ram Lal murmured while scanning the rest of the newspaper. He preferred to stay back at home, and have a time off for nothing.
The morning of 15th Jan, 2011. Ram Lal’s daughter came running and jubilantly said to him- “Mosque will be rebuilt! Baba, see the newspaper”. With a bit of agility and astonishment, he read the headline, “Faced with protests, CM pledges to rebuild mosque”. The newspaper had reported that “Chief Minister blamed the DDA for acting in an unfair way by demolishing the mosque without letting the Delhi Wakf Board present its case before the court. CM had also sent a note to the Prime Minister apprising him about the situation” (Times of India).
Ram Lal wasn’t amused. He snickered and muttered, “This can happen only in India…..Mera Bharat Mahan!!....” dropping the newspaper.
(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, University of Kashmir)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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