New Delhi: As the Supreme Court delivered a unanimous verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case Saturday, Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid witnessed a slew of reactions — while it was business as usual for some, others feared the mosque could be the ‘next target’.
Security was beefed up outside the mosque, one of the largest in India, as devotees, tourists and local vendors went about their day. Some even appeared oblivious to the dispute. “How does this affect me? I do not know anything about it,” said a rickshaw-puller near the mosque.
For Praveen Shrivastava, a shopkeeper in the area, it was a “good verdict” since the parties can now construct both a temple and a mosque.
“Babur was not from India anyway. But the verdict has benefited everyone. Both sides have been given land,” he said.
A few, however, were seen huddled in small groups to discuss the judgment.
Mohammad Shehzad, a driver who lives in the Jama Masjid vicinity, said Muslims knew what the verdict would be.
“I am not surprised…every Muslim saw this coming. Jiski laathi, uski bail (people with power have their way),” Shehzad told ThePrint. He was also worried about what the future holds for Jama Masjid.
In November last year, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had called for a demolition of the Jama Masjid, saying he can be hanged if idols are not found underneath the mosque. Subsequently, there were massive demonstrations outside the mosque calling for its demolition.
Recalling these protests, Shehzad said, “They haven’t forgotten Kashi and Mathura, they might just come to Jama Masjid eventually.”
But it’s not just Delhi residents, visitors to the mosque from various parts of the country also shared Shehzad’s anxiety. Sameer Khan, a Mumbai resident visiting Delhi, said he hasn’t forgotten the 1992-93 Mumbai riots that took place soon after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
“Everyone in Mumbai is extremely alert. The security is also very tight. It’s a scary time,” Khan told ThePrint.
Ubain Bin Mobeen from Allahabad, who was visiting Jama Masjid before taking his flight to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (pilgrimage), was certain the situation will take a more critical turn after the verdict. “Many people may start celebrating after this verdict, even try and tease and taunt the Muslims in their neighbourhood. That will make the situation much worse.”
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Yet another group discussed how the verdict was unlikely to dissolve anything and animosity would continue to prevail between Hindus and Muslims.
“This dispute has been going on since I was a child…I don’t think the verdict is going to resolve anything,” Pawan, a rickshaw-puller, said.
Welcoming the verdict, Imam Bukhari, the shahi imam of Jama Masjid, said, “I don’t see any point in the Muslim side going to court again with a review petition. Those talking about filing a review petition will only open a new Pandora’s box.”
“If we said we will accept Supreme Court’s decision, we should not find faults in it now.”
Ek Ghar Ka Do Batwara
The police personnel stationed outside the mosque and in areas nearby said it was important to rise above one’s religion and remember that humanity was the most important aspect of people’s lives.
Many of them declined to comment on the verdict, even as one quickly remarked: “Ek ghar ka do batwara ho gaya hai (a house has been divided into two).”
Another policeman said, “Businesses will not stop here…tourists will keep coming and shopkeepers will continue with their work. This is because the people here know that they cannot afford to lose even a day’s work.”
Another officer said how everyone, irrespective of their religion, is essentially the same. “We look the same and even dress the same to an extent. The only difference is in our choices…while you might like egg curry, I may like moong daal,” he said.
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