A diminished Eid spirit in Jamia Nagar

October 2nd, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Droves of people dressed in new clothes made their way through the clamouring traffic in Jamia Nagar’s narrow streets to share presents, meet friends and celebrate Eid, but somehow the real spirit that has marked this festival every year was missing this time.At the gates of Khalilullah Masjid at Batla, less than 25 metres from the infamous shootout site, crowds milled but the tension was obvious.

On Sep 13, a squad of Delhi Police ringed a house in this densely populated area and shot down two suspected militants, who they claimed were behind the bombings across Indian cities, including in Delhi. Three other youth were picked up the next day from the same locality and the police claimed they were part of the conspiracy to spread terror.

“This year, the morning namaz was read out even at smaller mosques so that the big mosques don’t get crowded like in previous years. But people on the whole are not stepping out. There was more bonhomie and cheer previously,” said Babur Ali, 20, a resident.

“There is clearly some anxiety and because of that residents are hesitant to celebrate Eid in its true spirit. It is a combination of several factors… the encounter and also the fear of blasts in markets,” he added,

Another resident, Amin was more forthcoming.

“I wish I could say that the past month’s events don’t affect us. But they actually do,” he said candidly.

The preparations that mark the run-up to Eid, one of the most important dates on the Muslim calendar, were lacking.

“Shops were kept closed to avoid crowds at markets here for 3 to 4 days. There was not much enthusiasm to prepare delicacies or buy new clothes. Yes, we celebrated but there was an underlying tension,” Amin added.

Amin maintains there is still an undercurrent of fear and anger that is latent and it is perhaps for this reason that the element of spontaneity and joy was not there.

The muezzin’s call to the Muslims to prayer drew people to mosques, and in his speech the imam reasserted that God was watching all and He would do justice.

“This is a peace-loving and secular community,” said Amin.

Gradually Amin’s conversation veered to that fateful day of the encounter.

“I and many here feel our society has been rattled by the shootout encounter and that it may have been fake,” he exclaims.

“Was the encounter carried out against the whole community? Without ambulances and fire brigades, without notifying the local police, they (the special cell officers) marched into our homes and claim that the two youths killed were terrorists, while the inspector who died was made a martyr,” yelled Amin.

Ali, a student at the Jamia Milia Islamia University, says though his family was away in Bihar, he made it a point to prepare sevaiyan (a special dish to break the fast) at home.

“These incidents should not make us forget our customs. I believe that we all collectively prayed for harmony to prevail and that nothing bad happens again here,” he added.

It was a wish which was perhaps on everyone else’s mind.

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