Hakim Khan, a resident of Dadri’s Bisara village for generations, has a major decision to make. Should he shift the venue of the wedding of two of his daughters away from the village, as demanded by the family of the bridegrooms, or should he trust the village elders, who have assured him that they will ensure the event goes off without a hitch?
Khan’s daughters Reshma and Zaitun are set to get married at a primary school in the village on October 11. But the bridegrooms’ families are now reluctant to hold the weddings in Bisara, which has been in the harsh glare of media spotlight since the lynching of its long-time resident Mohammad Akhlaq by a mob, on suspicion of beef consumption.
Village elders, most of them Hindus, have assured Khan and families of the bridegrooms that they will not allow any untoward incident to hamper the celebrations. Hariram Singh, Khan’s neighbour for nearly half a century, admitted that the village was struggling with a “bad reputation” after the heinous incident, but said they will try their best to ensure that the nearly 15 Muslim families in Bisara could live there without fear.
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“We want peace in the area. We have spoken to the family of the bridegrooms through our intermediaries; a few people will also visit the family members. The marriage will take place as scheduled, in our village. We will not let some miscreants spoil our brotherhood, which has existed for years,” said Singh.
The local pradhan, Sanjeev Singh, also vowed to “maintain communal harmony at any cost”. “I appeal to all Muslims: please don’t be afraid…we will conduct the marriage peacefully,” he said.
Khan, who works as a labourer, said, “The elders requested me to not to change the venue and also assured me of help in case of any trouble.”
He added that he had requested the police to deploy extra personnel on that day and hopes that such steps will convince the families of the bridegrooms to agree to hold the wedding in the village.
When contacted, the family of Momin, Reshma’s fiance, said his family was still not convinced about whether it was safe to hold the wedding in Bisara. “There will only be five people in the bridegroom’s party. We will conduct the marriage and leave,” he said.