The jam-packed road from Chawri Bazar metro station that leads to Lal Kuan is crowded, just like any other market place in Old Delhi. Except for the fact that it looks like a fortress with police barricades and hundreds of security personnel standing guard. But peace now prevails in the locality in the backdrop of an uneasy calm that could have sparked Hindu-Muslim tension.
“It’s the outsiders who came here and disrupted peace. Today, everything is fine just like it has always been. Hindus and Muslims have been living here together,” says Manjeet Singh, who owns a shop selling electrical equipment in Hauz Qazi. Few metres away from shop is the Durga temple which has been in news recently.
On June 30, a minor altercation over parking between people of two communities fuelled rumours of mob lynching. Hundreds of people gathered outside Hauz Qazi police station. The crowd started raising slogans and in the commotion the temple was vandalised by miscreants.
“The people who had gathered, mainly outsiders , threw stones at the temple. It was all done by outsiders.There were no locals,” Illyas Ali, a resident of Lal Kuan says. He added that it was due to the exponential rise in the cases of mob lynching across the country that rumours were being spread. “But the locals managed to control the situation,” he says.
His comments were echoed by Sunil Purwal, a shop owner in Hauz Qazi who emphasised that Old Delhi is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity. “Old Delhi is known for its Hindu-Muslim unity. This is called Ganga Jamna culture. It means we all live together in harmony. It is the outsiders who come here to disrupt peace,” he says.
After reports of the attack on the temple went viral, the entire locality was turned into a fortress for a couple of days. Senior police officials and local politicians also intervened to diffuse the tension
“There are bad people in every community. These people defame the entire community. Be it Hindus or Muslims. The culprits in the case should be brought to justice,” says Dr Ishrat Kafeel who has runs his clinic next to a Hindu household in Lal Kuan.
Police officials say that four people have been arrested in connection case while the hunt is on to nab those who spread rumours.
But the residents that such incidents definitely have their own repercussions. They say they have to be twice as more careful so that it doesn’t happen in future. “People who used to embrace each other will now think twice before even shaking hands. But we should be prudent and think before we act. We should know what is right and what is wrong,” Sunil Purwal says.