On the evening of December 6, 1992, when news about the demolition of Babri Masjid trickled into the chawls and slums near Mahim dargah, there was shock, but very little show of anger.
Burhan Parkar, who owns a chemist shop on Cadell Road, remembers that the next morning, Sajida Contractor, the local corporator, came to his shop. “She was worried about the youngsters’ reaction, Already, some of them had been gathered on a footpath,” said Parkar.
Parkar intervened and asked the group to go home. Around 10.30am, they received news of police firing on LJ Road that runs parallel to Cadell Road. He learnt that some of the men had walked into the police firing line. Hanif Khadar, a teenager whose family was known to Parkar, died in the firing.
During the riots when men were walking with swords, Parkar took his Hindu neighbours, the Gadekars, into his house. Later, many families left - Hindus to other areas and some Muslim families to larger homes in the suburbs. The Gadekars too moved away.
According to Parkar, memories of the riots have faded away in the area. While LJ and Cadell Roads have not changed much from the 1990s, there has been a profusion of restaurants in the area. “If this area was unsafe, restaurants would not have come here,” he explained.
A bigger change that Parkar sees is in the youngsters. During the riots, many of the young people who gathered at street corners were undereducated and unemployed. “But today’s youngsters are educated. Many work in malls and in call centres. These may not be the best jobs, but people who work are less likely to take part in riots,” he said.