Practising lawyer and social activist Daljit Singh Kocchar shows a photograph saved in his mobile phone wherein he is in the happy company of two prominent Muslims of the city, Qazi Nadeem Akhtar and Maulvi Fareed.
Nadeem is the son of Shahar Qazi and Fareed the manager of Saharanpur’s Jama Masjid.
The photograph was taken at a Holi Milan (Holi get-together) organised by the Nagar Shanti Samiti (city peace committee) on March 16. The peace committee is formed by the administration, with its members appointed after a background check by the local intelligence unit. The committee meets at least twice a year on Holi and Eid and also when peace in the city is in danger.
“On Holi, we felicitate a prominent Muslim of the city with a Shanti Samman and on Eid a Hindu or Sikh is felicitated with a bronze shield, a shawl and Rs. 5,100. But this year, the peace committee could not do it on Eid due to riots,” says Kocchar.
He got many calls on Eid and the next day to come and participate in the peace committee meet, but could not go.
“I am active in the management of the gurdwara where it all began. I am a former office bearer of the gurdwara management committee. There could be a backlash if I go for the meet,” says Kocchar.
The committee is planning to hold a peace march on Thursday. But Kocchar won’t be able to participate in that as well as the gurdwara management committee may go to Delhi to meet Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Kocchar spent the whole day preparing police applications of those who lost their shops in the riots and forming the response of the gurdwara management committee over the land dispute.
“We may be in a minority in the country but here our Hindu brothers are with us. We never saw ourselves as a minority here,” says HS Chadha, another prominent Sikh leader and former president of the gurdwara management committee, indicating that it should not be seen as an issue between two minorities.
But Maulvi Fareed is hopeful that Sikhs will join again for peace in the city.