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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

We’re not targets: Jammu Muslims

The Muslims in Jammu aren't afraid to speak out about the turmoil over the Amarnath land order in the Friday Prayers, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2008 00:21 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times

Friday prayers are over and Muslims in Jammu are heading home, fearless. The minority community in Jammu, they have a population of less than one-and-a-half lakh. But they aren't afraid to speak out about the turmoil over the Amarnath land order. In fact, they feel this time of prayer is the best time to reflect on what's happening around them.

“After all, we are coming out of our mosques and have to be truthful,” says Zafar Iqbal of Gujjar Nagar, an almost exclusively Muslim locality. “And the truth is we are not afraid, no one has harassed us.”

The agitation has at times taken a communal hue, with mobs setting the huts of nomadic Gujjars on fire in some areas. There have also been instances of Valley-bound drivers being beaten. But the Muslims feel these incidents are being paraded on the streets of Srinagar as part of a “design” to whip up communal passions.

Of course, they say, no one talks about the many times Muslims have joined their Hindu brothers in the protest, declaring in no uncertain terms that they are one on the issue.

Entry points to Muslim localities have little police presence. The few cops on duty are relaxed as there hasn’t been any attempt by the mobs to cause trouble. So far, so good is the common refrain.

“Normal life has been disrupted. That is my worry. The rest is fine,” says Mohammad Pervez. “I am as fearful as any Hindu in the city,” quips Sajjad Ali of Talab Khatikan, in the heart of the walled city and home to the city’s Jamia Masjid.

“It is not communal but life has stopped in its tracks. Isn’t that bad enough,” asks Mohammad Aslam Khan, a retired police official.

Mohammad Rafiq Choudhary isn’t worried that he goes to a predominantly Hindu school. He is worried because his studies have been hurt. “I speak to my Hindu friends, they are also worried,” he says.

But security forces aren’t taking any chances and have imposed curfew on Poonch, Rajouri and Bhaderwah towns. “There was a threat of things turning communal,” says a senior official. But that is an exception, not the rule, he adds.