A Bengali-majority area can’t keep non-Bengalis out. Not in Kolkata, not in Delhi, and certainly not in India.india Updated: Jan 26, 2010 21:50 IST
Like the Chinese of Chinatowns in almost all major cities of the world, the Bengalis of Chittaranjan Park in New Delhi claim the neighbourhood as a patch of Bengali land — if not of Kolkata — far from ‘home’. What Southall and Brick Lane is to British Punjabis and Bangladeshis respectively, ‘CR Park’ is to diasporic or otherwise Bengalis of Delhi. But just because you get your mutton ghugnis, phhuckas (never gol gappas here!) and panthuas (never gulab jamuns here!) in this paara (not ilaka or muhalla), does that mean that non-Bengalis in the neighbourhood are persona non-grata? Rubbish, says the Delhi High Court very rightly.
Subnationalists in monkey caps had gone to court opposing the allotment of land in ‘their’ neighbourhood to a non-Bengali Buddhist Mission. Justice M. Muralidhar stated clearly that in a residential colony in an urban metropolis, “any attempts by members of the dominant community of that colony to exclude members of any other community from access to public space and reserve such space to themselves must be frowned upon”. Hear, hear! The last thing one wants in Delhi is to have community-based areas being sanctioned officially. It’s one thing to gravitate to particular areas inhabited by members of your community, and quite another to keep those not in your linguistic, ethnic or religious club out.
Bengalis usually divide humanity into two: Bengalis and non-Bengalis. That’s fine by us. But who said that Bengalis can keep non-Bengalis out of areas where Rabindrasangeet reigns supreme? Kolkata certainly hasn’t. And we don’t want to turn into a Mumbai now, do we?