Barely two months after he saw his neighbourhood burning, Trilokpuri resident Zeeshan Haider is again getting a sense of foreboding after RSS-backed organisations decided to felicitate converted Muslims from Meerut at a rally in central Delhi's Ramlila grounds on Christmas.
"The situation had just started getting better. Hindus and Muslims had started interacting amicably again, going about their business normally," the 27-year-old told HT on Monday. "The talk about conversions may again polarise and lead to bitterness."
The poll-bound Capital has slowly been getting on the boil in the last few months. From Dalit colonies to campuses, from shop corners to office water coolers, talk swirls around imminent polarisation.
November's Trilokpuri violence that injured over 70 was immediately followed by communal tensions in northwest Delhi's Bawana. Earlier this month, a prominent Catholic church in northeast Delhi's Dilshad Garden burnt down amid allegations of foul play and religious polarisation in the city ahead of assembly polls likely early next year.
As organisers put up tents for participants at the Ramlila grounds and the police up their presence, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat's recent call to Delhiites to fund tribals so that they don't convert has added to the murmurs.
"Those who have willingly converted should be left alone. I know a few of them," said Ramesh Singh, 47, a dry fruits trader from the old city. "But forcible conversions, be it from any religion, must stop."
Even BJP leaders are in two minds. "At a time when the Opposition is targeting then BJP over conversions, senior leaders should ideally stay away from such an event," said a leader of the BJP's Delhi unit, requesting anonymity.
"But we don't have much of a say in this. Seniors take the call. If they want members of the Delhi BJP to attend, we will have to," he added. The RSS expects 25,000 to participate from across Delhi and the national capital region with around 5,000 of them from Gurgaon.
"There will be RSS members, students of DAV schools and members of the Arya Samaj too. In support of the PM's Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, there will be a special float (jhaki) and after the event, RSS leaders will clean the rally venue," said RSS leader Vagish Issar.
He said Dalits would participate in big numbers, a community the BJP wants to win over from the Aam Aadmi Party. Elections, after all, are just round the bend.