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Afraid of going to Muslim areas!
By Ajit Kumar Dwivedi

The wife of one of my friends got a job in a Shahdra (Delhi) school. Shortly before that she had lost her job elsewhere but in spite of that she did not go to the Shahdra school for duty, because, according to her, that is a Muslim area and she is afraid of going there. She, of course, came to Delhi recently but it is all the more surprising that even people living in Delhi for a long time avoid going to these areas. I know some ladies who like Karim Hotel’s ‘Murgh Musallam’ but do not want to go there because the place where it is situated, i.e. Jama Masjid, is a Muslim locality.

No doubt localities like Jama Masjid, Shahdra, Seelampur, Welcome Colony, Zakir Nagar are some what different from other colonies of Delhi because these are thickly populated, with narrow lanes and dirtier surroundings. Moreover, these colonies appear old-fashioned. But otherwise there is nothing wrong with these colonies which may excite any feeling of fear or danger. But in spite of these, well-to-do people specially ladies are somewhat hesitant in visiting these places. This is in fact because of some misgivings about Muslims and Muslim localities which is a phenomenon of about a decade or so. Old residents of Delhi know that Delhi is what is around Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli, Sadar Bazar, Fatehpuri, Naya Bazar, Baraf Khana, etc and trans-Jamuna areas like Shahdra, Seelampur etc. which are the hallmark of Delhi.

A few decades ago when New Delhi was in the process of habitation, there was no distinction between Hindu and Muslim localities or ‘mohallas’, though the wounds of riots of pre and post partition days were fresh. But today, after fifty years the widening communal gulf in the country is the product of partition of the country. One of the reasons of people’s unwillingness to visit areas like Seelampur, Jama Masjid, Shahdra etc are rumours or misgivings that agents of Pakistan’s secret agency, ISI and Kashmir terrorists take refuge in these localities, and a sort of anti-India atmosphere prevails there. This mentality of social divide is associated purely with today’s Indian political structure. There were groups in Hindus and Muslims which had been spreading feelings of hatred, jealously and malice against each other even much before Independence and thereafter also. But their objectives and areas of influence were limited.

However, the objectives of such groups changed along with the growth of Hindutva forces towards the end of eighties and the area of their influence also increased. Religious divide became essential for capturing power and different types of strategies began to be adopted for the achievement of these objectives. The dictum of Goebbels started to be put on test that if you tell a lie hundred times, it becomes a truth. Organisations affiliated to RSS and VHP converted to a great extent in the northern India the lie that there is no city or town in northern India where ISI is not actively working into a truth or certainty. The propaganda machinery of RSS made every Muslim a suspicious person.

ISI’s subversive activities in the border areas of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh may be true to some extent but making every Muslim a target of suspicion on this basis is wrong from all respects. The ruling party at the Centre and its affiliated organisations tried their best to convince people that every Muslim leader is an ISI agent. I see in my state, Bihar that MPs and MLAs like Shahabuddin, Matiur Rahman, Anwarul Haq, Taslimuddin are dubbed as ISI agents. These allegations are made with such confidence and certainty that common man is easily led away by such propaganda. Such propaganda is further strengthened because of Kashmiri terrorism. Common man entertains emotional attachment with Kashmiri because on the basis of misleading news of half truths about happenings taking place there and exodus of Pundits on large scale from there, people have adverse impression about all Muslim population. This false propaganda is continuously dividing the society. The tragedy is that the elements contradicting or blunting it are shrinking day by day.
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