More than a decade a go as a 10 year old in the bylanes of Mumbai where I used to live, festivals like Ganesh Chathurthi and Garba had some meaning for me. There was a sizeable Hindu population in the area especially Gujarati’s and Marathi’s in the nearby LIG colony, who would celebrate these festivals with great fervor. For us kids, It meant lots of entertainment. In the evenings we would go to watch people playing Garba around bonfire and for the ten days of Ganpati they would screen latest movies on giant screens that would be especially put up for the occasion.Then there is this place called Brahman wadi, as the name suggests all the residents in the locality we Maharashtrian Brahmins who it seems had lived there for ages.
There were couple of objects of interest for us, one was the RSS shakha and the other is said to be the house of Nathuram Godse. It’s said his family and descendents still live there and as kids we would often try to peep in to see the family of the person who killed Gandhi, although I now wonder how it would had been beneficial for us.It’s not like there wasn’t any communal issues between majority of the Muslims living in the area but mostly they were minor and were solved amicably. All in all there was a kind of communal harmony in a mixed neighborhood.
Then came the Babri masjid demolition and the subsequent riots in Bombay, many things happened during that time some good, mostly bad and some very bad. Considering the scale of the riots nothing major happened in our locality except for the death of a influential Sena member who was accused of using police sharp shooters on his terrace to shoot people and was stabbed to death within a month after the riots got over. But things changed a lot after that, although nearly no one in the LIG colonies was ever harmed, People soon moved out of it. At first it was the Gujarati’s and then the Maharashtrians, All who could afford to leave the area, left, one after another.
A once mixed colony turned into a “Ghetto”, now there was this Hindu Colony of Brahman wadi and surrounding Muslim colonies. We were asked not to take the route via wadi to the station as it was dangerous though the shortest route, the Brahmins and the Muslims got steel channels erected around their colonies. Each felt threatened of the other and slowly the Brahmins also moved out, now the Brahman wadi houses many times more Muslim families than Brahmins.
This is not the story of one city or a suburb, this story is being played out every other day in this country . So when sometime back I was looking for a house the broker would often tell me why I should not go to a particular colony. On being told that I don’t mind I was informed that the owners won’t sell their house to a Muslim or in some cases the societies don’t allow them to. The trend is spreading so fast that probably within a decade there wouldn’t be mixed colonies at all, we would have ghettos, A Hindu Ghetto and A Muslim Ghetto. For a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai this means death, coz what makes Mumbai is its people, now if each don’t want the other to come close the spirit of the city would die as with the nation.
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