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UP's Cosmopolitan Qasbah: Where Hate Speech Falls on Deaf Ears

Hallaur: If there is a place in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh where polarisation and hate speeches fall on deaf ears then it is Hallaur – a Muslim dominated village that voted on February 27. It falls in Domariyaganj assembly seat.

“Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath was in nearby district for a rally and rendered heated speeches but it was hardly noticed here in our village, there were allegations of Hindu exodus in western Uttar Pradesh but in our region, where Muslims dominate the village and Hindus are in minority, there was never such politics,” said the resident of the village Javed Rizvi. Hallaur is his ancestral village and he works in Lucknow. He suggested, “If you go around our village you will be confused because a Muslim would be popularly called Pandit ji or Patil sahab, and Hindus would keep tazia on Muharram,”

While on a recce of the large village that is as developed as a town one finds people proud of their history and community ties. As we waited for the Yadav family to show up at door of their hut there was suddenly a cry among people “Call Panditji,” who was passing by.

Pandit ji joined us and introduced himself, “My name is Tasbeeb Hasan, but if you want to look for me in the village you will have to ask for Panditji kahan rehte hain… otherwise people will take time to understand. I am popular as a Pandit ji here,” said Hasan. He is a teacher in the village school. Explaining the reason for being called Pandit ji he said, “I studied Sanskrit in three language formula and my friend a Yadav, studied Urdu. I became Pandit ji for studying Sanskrit.”

Sriram Yadav, is one of the two Yadav families that stay there said, “I am the fourth generation living here – among Muslims both Shias and Sunnis I have never felt insecure to leave this place. The village is an example of harmony and unity. ” Whatever bonds they have they are personal – “enmity or camaraderie nothing political only personal,” added Nand Lal, another Hindu in the Muslim-dominated village. He further said, “During Muharram we keep tazia at home. This is part of our culture and has been practiced for long.”

Hasan reminded the villagers of certain Gupta ji who now lives in Faizabad, “Gupta ji is the first one to spread the chadar or flower wreaths on the tazia in Muharram. This is the beauty of our village – Hallaur.” Most of the Hallauri Muslims are Shias – 85% of entire population is Muslim out of which more than 90% Shiites are from the Syed families. Others are Hindus and Dalits. The Dalits worked on the fields of Syed Landlords.

The political campaigns are still on – Kasab, Kabristan and Shamshan have made it to headlines, “But if politicians come here they will get confused about the person’s identity – a Syed is popularly called Patil, Pandey, Dubey or James. There is a Muslim BJP supporter Qasim Rizvi. Till the time you don’t say Pal nobody will know who you are talking about him. He has been associated with Jagdambika Pal for decades, his association with the politician earned him this nickname Pal,” said Anwar Abbas, resident of the village.

Mahfooz Ali is popularly called Max because on Sundays he visits St Thomas Church said, “Our village is an example of tolerance and unity – Muslim marriages have resemblance to Hindu traditions of haldi and festivals see cooperation from all communities. During Durga pooja the committee formed for the celebrations did not make arrangements for light then Muslims of the village collected funds for them. We got the lights fixed up at the pandal.”

Syed Shabih Haider, a cop said, “Hallaur is not affected by hate speeches exactly the way Ayodhya is not affected by them. Here Muslims take care of Hindus and there Pandits are protective about Muslims. There is a Muslim dominated locality in Ayodhya too. But there two places will never give in to politics of hate.”

First Published: March 3, 2017, 12:50 PM IST