It fills my heart with immense sorrow and grief to see parts of northeast Delhi literally burning and gradually turning into a hotbed of religious violence over the past few days. A city where I have lived for more than three years never seemed this much horrifying in my living memory.
I have heard of and read about the genocide of the Sikh community in 1984, but the extremely disturbing visuals that I have come across on social media of the people running a rampage, setting both private and public properties on fire, targeting the members and religious places of each others’ communities, and mercilessly beating people to death, leaving many injured; I wonder what else could have been more dreadful than this.
A mother whose young son was lynched and shot to death, a policeman who was martyred in the confrontation, a person whose house has been attacked and burnt, a shopkeeper whose shop has been burned down – the only source of his livelihood, and many more excruciating stories of pain and horror that have emerged in the past few days are a blot on us.
It’s not the loss of Hindus and Muslims, but of every human being who strives to live with peace and harmony in the society. This is extremely worrying not merely because of the loss of lives and properties, but also because of the fact that the wounds of religious violence take decades and centuries to heal, and at times fester for such long time period that its brunt has to be borne by even the generations to come.
It takes minutes for a frenzied mob to burn a house but takes a lifetime for someone to build the same. The politicians who provoke violence by making incendiary remarks stay safe in their big mansions with guards around them to provide security and ensure their safety. It’s the common people, both Hindus and Muslims, who lose their lives and family members and have to helplessly see their beautiful sight of locality turn into a tragic scene at the hands of fanatics.
And if they happen to be poor, then it’s like adding an insult to their injuries as they are stripped of their means of livelihood and business for months in such a climate of fear, leaving them completely helpless.
Amid all this violence and poisoned environment, when we lose hope after seeing the inefficiency of the administration to control the situation, then we come across instances which come as a relief and ray of hope for things to get back to normalcy from such troubling times.
Be it Muslims protecting temples from being vandalised in their vicinity or the Hindus protecting and sheltering their Muslim neighbours, people from both communities are running a solidarity march in the affected areas to showcase Hindu-Muslim unity with slogans such as “we all are one and united.”
It clearly shows that most of Hindus and Muslims even in the riot-hit areas don’t want to fight with each other. They want peace and normalcy to be restored. They understand it very well that religious hatred and violence lead us nowhere except to the doors of hell on this very earth, pushing us back decades and turning everything we claim to have achieved in the name of ‘progress’ into dust .