Updated: November 10, 2019 8:46:16 am
The usually bustling Bhendi Bazar market wore a deserted look Saturday with fewer people on the streets. Even as some anticipated communal tension following the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case, shops and establishments in the alleys of market lifted their shutters to indicate that it was “business as usual”.
Khalid Hakim, owner of Noor Mohammadi shop, said he had opened the eatery at 6 am. “There was not a single customer in the morning when we opened for breakfast. Business has been very slow throughout the day.”
Shabaaz Sadiwala, 30, who owns a designer garments’ shop in the area, said shop owners here had held a meeting last evening and unanimously decided to open their shops at usual time. “But it feels like a Sunday. The traffic is thin and only few people are on the streets.”
Muslim-dominated areas in the city, especially parts which had witnessed communal violence in 1992-93 in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Saturday saw increased deployment of security forces. At five junctions in Bhendi Bazar, 10-member teams of armed policemen from Pydhoni and JJ Marg police stations were deployed.
In the narrow lanes off Jogeshwari highway, were four rooms of the Gandhi chawl, also referred as Radhabai chawl, were gutted as a second wave of riots had swept through Mumbai in 1993, social activists, both from Hindu and Muslim communities, had held group meetings urging people to maintain peace. Over the past few days, they have also visited houses in the chawl and nearby slums.
“We met local police and community members. Even yesterday (Friday), we held a meeting to discuss how to manage rumours that could possibly lead to riot like situation,” Nitin Kubal, a local resident and activist, said.
In 1993, six Hindus were killed when the four 150-200 sq ft rooms at Radhabai chawl were set ablaze. Currently, at least 40 women are enrolled for a beauty course at a training centre that now runs at the spot.
“Police presence in every few streets here made locals feel safe,” Sajid Sheikh, who was injured during the then riots, said.
In Mumbra, located around 30 km from Mumbai, where several Muslims from Mumbai had relocated in the aftermath of the riots, it was a day like any other. In fact, most areas from Jama Masjid, located opposite Mumbra station, to Kavsa, were decorated ahead of Sunday’s Eid-e-Milad.
Shamim Khan (66), who had moved to Mumbra in 1990’s, said that there was absolutely no tension related to the judgment in the area. “Issues like a temple or mosque being built in Ayodhya do not impact our lives in anyway.
People have now become smarter and realise that these are issues only created by political parties. They don’t fall for it (such issues) anymore. The real issues that matter now are prices of onions and tomatoes, which are going through the roof,” Khan said.
An officer from Mumbra police said that Senior Inspector Madhukar Kad had meet several social activists, community leaders and local residents on November 4. “In the meeting, the senior inspector said that he was confident that no untoward incident would take place in Mumbra.
He, however, did say that the cyber police were looking out for inflammatory messages being spread on social media groups,” a local resident, who did not wish to be identified, said. Police had also urged religious leaders to ask people to accept the Supreme Court judgment.
In Bhiwandi, too, roads remained empty Saturday with people stepping out only to go to work. “How does it matter to us if they make a mandir or masjid? We still have to save up enough to be able to rent a kholi (room),” Wasimullah Khan (42), a handloom worker from Bhiwandi, said.
Another resident Sarfaraj Alam said, “It is a relief that the judgment has been delivered and the case is finally over. Now everyone can move on and focus on other issues.”
Jalil Ansari, a Bhiwandi-based social activist, said there would be no negative reaction from the Muslim community. “Now that it (the verdict) is out, we respect it completely. As of now, there is no question of dissent.”
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