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Malegaon,

Not the One You Know

 

 By Aleem Faizee

 

Malegaon, a town in India with more than 70% Muslim population has always been considered as a communally sensitive place. However, there is a place in Malegaon where a Mosque and a Mandir exist side by side with Muslims and Hindus, both living there in peace since last many years. Same is the case with the whole town. Except for the selected few who always try to create trouble, the whole town comprises the peace loving people . Still, the tag of being a communally sensitive place is attributed with the town.

 

 
 

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Because of the historic seventeenth century fort my Mohalla, the locality around it, was named as Qilla or Fort. One can easily find many Hindu and Muslim families living there peacefully ever since its emergence. Not only peacefully, but are living, many a time, assisting each other. Just steps away from this historic fort, existed an akhada, an ancient form of Indian gymnasium. The akhada was jointly managed by Hindus and Muslims and even now has some Muslim names in its managing body.

 

Sometimes in 1930 when a Masjid was built there adjacent to this akhada, a Mandir was also set up along side. It was enough to convert the Mohalla into a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. Even today Hindus and Muslims pray together at their respective places of worship, mocking the people who term Malegaon as “the communally sensitive place.”

 

"I still remember the Ganpati and  Shiv Jyanti processions passing through my Mohalla on marvelously decorated trucks. The battery system that prevails today was nowhere in practice at that times and trucks after the trucks in the procession used to take the electricity connections from my house every year."

It is not clear why the place, which was supposed to be “a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity”, became a sensitive place. This becomes even more surprising when one fails to find a single incident when because of the Masjid and the Mandir being side by side has caused any communal disturbances.

 

Still, ever since I was born around a quarter century ago, I always noticed the policemen sitting around my Mohalla. Under the watchful eyes of the policemen, I used to visit the Masjid while my fellow Mohallawallas visit the Mandir. Surprised, once I asked my dad why these policemen are always here around and prompt came the reply, “Because of the Masjid and the Mandir.” The Masjid, the Mandir and the Policemen, I failed to understand a damn at that time.

 

But as I grew older, it transpired to me that just because a Masjid and a Mandir exist side by side, my Mohalla is considered as highly sensitive place. But believe me, despite all these hype about the so called sensitiveness of the place, I seldom noticed any tension between the two communities in my Mohalla. Not even when Malegaon was subjected to several riots. People in this Mohalla always remained peaceful and resided with remarkable mutual respect and understanding. And if not, could the water from the water-tanks of the Masjid have regularly used when the expansion of the Mandir was recently underway?

 

"The governmental inaction in bringing to book the perpetrators of communal violence has been a sore point. On the other hand, the police, along with the media, overplay the involvement of Muslims in violent activities and underplay the involvement of other groups or organizations"

-Excerpts from Sachar Committee Report

What’s more, I still remember the Ganpati and Shiv Jyanti processions passing through my Mohalla on marvelously decorated trucks. The battery system that prevails today was nowhere in practice and trucks after the trucks in the procession used to take the electricity connections from my house. And other people in the Mohalla too never hesitated in lending such a helping hand.

 

Forget the excitement of daily prayers five times in a day a Muslim of the Mohalla performs with fellow Hindus concurrently offering the Pujas, the festive season that normally starts in the month of August with Ganpati, makes the atmosphere of the Mohalla such that it remains memorable for the whole year. The lightings, the decorations and the huge pendals, it was all very mesmerizing. The Muezzin bellowing the azan, call for prayer, and the simultaneous chanting of the Bhajan by the Pandit with fellow mates; all this is nothing but thrilling.

 

But despite all the peace and harmony people in this Mohalla used to live with, the policemen are normally there as usual and when my two-year old son asked why the policemen are seen here around our Mohalla, unlike my father, I failed to utter anything to him.

 

 

 

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