As the name suggests, the narrow lane in Noor-e-Ilahi has a mosque and a temple within metres of each other. (Express photo: Abhinav Saha)
A group of residents in Noor-e-Ilahi was alerted the moment violence broke out in parts of Maujpur, metres from their lane, on Sunday. The group, comprising both Hindus and Muslims, immediately stood guard outside their lane, known as Mandir Masjid Marg.
As the name suggests, the narrow lane in Noor-e-Ilahi has a mosque and a temple within metres of each other. As violence grew in scale over the week, Hindus shielded the mosque while Muslims stood guard outside the temple and the area remained unscathed.
For decades, the area has been known for its communal harmony due to the presence of two places of worship — Azizya Mosque and Hanuman temple — within close proximity. The area has a mix of both communities’ residents within a 1-kilometre radius.
On Sunday, when stone-pelting began, local youths came out to inform people about mobs in the neighbourhood. The elders of both communities held an emergency meeting in which it was decided that the residents in the area will remain peaceful irrespective of the situation around.
“For us, there is no distinction of Hindus and Muslims in this area. Our childhood has been spent at both the temple and mosque. Shortly after the news broke out, a mob tried to enter the lane from the side of the temple. They wanted to attack both places of worship in order to create a riot. We made sure that the crowd didn't enter the lane,” said Faizan, a resident.
Next to the temple, a resident described how he helped a Muslim man, who was injured in the clashes, receive treatment before escorting him safely out.
“We have a lot of faith in each other. In fact, when a few people who had been injured came this side for treatment, because they knew they will not be harmed here, we got their dressings done and made sure they reached their homes safely. The legacy of this harmony will continue,” said Sunil Kumar, a resident.
The mosque has a capacity of more than 500 and announcements of peace were also made through the loudspeaker at the peak of the violence. The Hanuman temple dates back to the 1980s, a local said. Locals also said they prevented a petrol pump and several houses being gutted in the colony adjacent to the Marg.
“We were simply doing our duty. And if the time comes, we will do it again,” said Amer, another resident.