As far as the question regarding origins of Delhi is concerned it first came into existence during the Mauryan rule dating back to 300 B.C. with British being the last to have cast a lasting impression on its culture and architecture before leaving in 1947.
I particularly chose Jama Masjid and Urdu Bazaar as a subject of this field trip because of its architectural, cultural and monumental value. But in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding Bodo and Muslim people, I couldn’t help but dissociate the subject from the ambit of my conversations with the people that I met during the visit. Though there are many angles to the whole issue but I wanted to gauge the impact that it left on the Muslim minority in Delhi and what better way to do it than talking to the most aware and active Muslims from the oldest Islamic strongholds, Old Delhi.
As I was roaming around the streets of Urdu Bazaar in Old Delhi looking for bytes on Mughal Culture and Philosophy, I came across a shop dealing in Mughal Artworks. When I asked him some of the questions regarding the artworks that he was dealing in, he candidly disclosed that all the artworks in his shop are reproductions of vintage collectibles and If I wanted to know of something authentic related to Mughal history, I should try talking to a book vendor about two centuries old and seek information from him. This shop is managed by three generations with someone from each generation present in the shop, when I visited them.
Since, the shop was a couple and half centuries old, its structure had to be reinforced, while retaining its old world charm. The shop owners were visibly uneasy initially yet they assented to replying to my questions on condition of anonymity. After enquiring on a few facts about my identity, they spoke candidly. I asked the salesman on the specialty of their shop and any culture related information that I can source from them, I was told of some old Urdu books with more than two centuries to their existence.
Upon asking for their take on the recent rise of tensions among the Bodo and Muslim community, the 73-year-old member of the family did not delay in expressing the Muslim community’s desire for peace. He blamed the entire incident on miscreants spreading hate messages through the conspiracy of right wing fundamentalists and a few highly placed members of the government, motivated by political gains. Another elderly Muslim gentleman visiting the shop also agreed with him. He said that though he was the only Muslim family living in a largely surrounded by the Hindu neighborhood, his equation with them hadn’t changed. Rather, he said that he enjoyed a privileged position in the society and was unaffected by the news of the recent violence.
Since, the violence emerged as part of a protest against unchecked immigration into Indian Territory from the neighboring Bangladesh and them drawing a share out of the resources and employment opportunities available to the local population. The layman views I experienced during the trip is however quite confused and full of unfounded fears that resonates it was a communal clash and more clashes like these may take place anytime. The mood of the place grew darker and vulnerable when I tried to change the course of discussion and move on with my business but the emotion stuck with me. The growing sense of insecurity and doubt has surround this predominant a business venture and its owners, something is really wrong with the governance in our country.
After bidding goodbye to the shop owner on a positive note, I moved onto my journey and entered Jama Masjid to explore the monument further.