Delhi violence: In Old Mustafabad, beliefs blur as residents unite to protect temple

Aranya Shankar
Delhi violence: Three mosques targeted, school burnt, shops & homes looted

A school in Mustafabad on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

With three mosques being targeted during the violence, a group of men from both communities have got together to prevent retaliatory attacks on Shiv Temple in Babu Nagar in Old Mustafabad, keeping watch 24x7.

Mohd Haseen (24), a BA student of Delhi University’s Deshbandhu College, is among those who have been making sure communal tension in adjoining areas doesn’t spread to their locality. “At any given time, we make sure there are enough people to deal with a mob if it comes this side. There is a lot of brotherhood and camaraderie in our area, and we don’t want it to be ruined at any cost,” he said.

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Kamruddin (52), who supplies snacks to tea shops and lives just a stone’s throw away from the temple, is also part of the group of men that keeps vigil.

“It has been many years that we have been staying here, and we never expected that such riots could take place. It is important now more than ever to safeguard insaaniyat (humanity). Our mosques were burnt but we won’t let anyone destroy temples,” he said.

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Haseen said that those living next to temples take turns to make sure someone is keeping watch even at night. “Even on the days when violence took place in nearby areas, we made sure our lanes are not affected. Both communities made their own small teams with lathis in hand, and pushed away their own if they tried to create trouble,” he said.

Delhi violence: In Old Mustafabad, beliefs blur as residents unite to protect temple

Over 60 vehicles were set ablaze by a mob in Mustafabad. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Reena (52), the caretaker of the temple, said to be at least 30-35 years old, said she has such trust in locals, that she even hands them the keys of the temple, in case of an emergency.

Reena conducts pooja twice a day in absence of a pandit, and is also responsible for its caretaking.

Delhi violence: In Old Mustafabad, beliefs blur as residents unite to protect temple

In Old Mustafabad on Wednesday. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

“They are our own people. Even now I haven’t been to the temple for the past few days, but I trust that they will make sure no harm comes to it. We are all part of a family and have been living as one, why will it change now? There may be different names for our gods, but ultimately he is the same,” she said.

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Despite hers being among the very few Hindu houses in a largely Muslim-dominated street, she said she felt secure. “There is a lot of love between everyone here, and I’m sure it will remain,” said Reena.