As the police started firing on the frenzied mob outside Mecca Masjid on Friday, Mohammed Wahiruddin was reminded of an afternoon in 1992 that changed his life forever.
The 45-year-old was at his sewing machine in a small tailor’s shop in Dadar, Mumbai, when a crowd surged past. Soon, he heard yells, and police firing.
It was December 1992. The storm that had been brewing since the Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya on December 6 had just broken.
“I remember the fear, the feeling that I would never feel safe there again,” he recalls.
Now, seated at the only restaurant still open in the normally bustling surrounds of Hyderabad’s 17th-century Mecca Masjid, he is worried all over again.
Hours ago, a blast inside the mosque claimed 11 lives. The police firing that followed killed another five people.
It is midnight now and the turmoil has given way to a tenuous peace.
“A bomb in our own mosque, our holy Mecca Masjid… it just proves terror can strike anywhere, any time,” says Wahiruddin.
“I feel so cheated,” he says. “I came back here because I didn’t want my wife and son to live in fear. I gave up a good job to drive an autorickshaw here. What was the use?”
What hurts most, he adds, is the injustice. “Our own brothers, neighbours and sons die as they are praying to Allah. Then the police turn up and start shooting. They did the same thing in Mumbai 15 years ago.”