DS33: Interview with survivors of Jogeshwari Communal Riots
Cinematographer: Nasreen Mohammad, Seemanthini Dhuru
Duration: 03:00:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 48.540; Saturation: 0.085; Lightness: 0.447; Volume: 0.115; Cuts per Minute: 0.769
Summary: Communal riots marred the good relationship between Hindus and Muslims. People in this video discuss about – lack of prompt action and common sense of Police flared up a frenetic pace of activity by Muslim and Hindu mob. Bombay witnessed the kind of bloodbath which they never had witnessed before. People also talk how religious bigots clamped down the communal ideas among masses and the identity of a person had become either a Hindu or Muslim. Everyone in the video agrees that if a person wants prosperity then people need to learn to stay together and start respecting each other’s religion.
Jogeshwari Communal Riots Interview
8th February 1991
A lady who was in Kerala to attend the meeting thought that her family is safe in Mumbai and her colony may not have suffered the boisterous act in the name of religion. Her belief was shattered as soon as she saw her home damaged and broken. Fortunately, her kids were safe as her house owner, who is a Muslim, saved them.
The lady also helped house owner’s son, when ruffians were trying to attack him in spite of the fact that she may also get beaten. She also tells that people who are residing in the chawl are not behind communal riot. Hooligans enter the residential area and create differences among people. She also tells how she was told to not help Muslim people as they will not help her in return in future. Future - that itself is uncertain.
An image of holy Mecca-Madina is placed in the house of a Muslim woman. She has been staying in this area since her childhood, almost 40 years and she has never seen any differences between Hindus and Muslims. There was peace, co-operation, tranquility, solidarity and unity in that chawl. But hooligans entered the area, and set many houses ablaze.
Her neighbour, Sharada, and others helped her son from getting severely injured or even from losing his life for no reason at all. She also helped children from her colony whether they belonged to Hindu or Muslims. She indirectly speaks that the communal riot was a staged riot by political parties and other anti-national elements.
Sharad Vasant Popat, own a ration shop, also helped his neighbours when hooligan tried to create unrest and hatred among residents. He has been residing in the area since last 15 years but he has also not witnessed any such incidence where a Muslim had a problem with Hindu or vice-versa. He also tells that how hooligans were trying to instill fear among people and invoke them to participate in communal activities even after the active phase of the riots was over.
He also tells they are trying to evoke religion sentiments among Muslim by stabbing them and posing threat to them. He also alleges that how these ruffians are pelting stones at them too even though they are saying they want to harm only Muslims. He also gives an inside view that there is no feeling of hatred among neighbours despite the fact that they belong to diverse religion and region.
Curfew was imposed only in Jogeshwari (East), affected small-time business and livelihood of many families. He tells how these ruffians create problem, set ablaze many houses and stab Muslims. They also demand money. Somehow, they escape and the residents have to borne the brunt of police investigation and anger.
Arifa gives her opinion about the commotion in her area. She alleges that police had invoked people by resorting to open firing and lathi-charge. Insensitivity of police had caused more grief to people. She also tells how criminals influence and instigate young boys to involve in barbaric acts. They hurled stones at Police.
People also tried to take advantage of this situation to sort their own personal revenge. She highlighted about ‘Criminalisation of Politics’ and ‘Nexus between Police and Criminals’. She discussed on a length about the problems faced by women in this communal riot.
This lady narrates an incident of how she lost her home due to this riot. Although she managed to save her life by disguising herself as Hindu, a Hindu had suggested this idea; her home was invaded and occupied by others.
She met few concerned official to resolve her issue but all she heard was some bluff statements. Her neighbours are supporting her in acquiring her own house but she couldn’t afford to sue those trespassers.
Arifa tells about a Hindu woman, who helped her and made other young boys understood that animosity between Hindus and Muslims is just a waste of time. She also indirectly hints about misguided culturalism that leads to frenetic pace of communal activities.
Two ladies are sitting in their home, giving their point of view and sharing their experience with YUVA. Noorjahan tells how some infiltrators with a motive to spark off the pent-up anger of the common people ignited the issue again. They were successful this time as the unemployed people in their own chawl are getting involved in riotous practices. She alleges that political motive is behind the communal riots. Her emphasis on considering herself Indian first then Muslim is commendable.
Irrespective of her attempt to stop Hindu violent mob and Muslim violent mob from attacking and spitting religious venom on each other, she fails at it miserably sometimes as their religious passion is still fresh and aggressive.
Nafis Muzaffar is fed up of the communal riot. She believes that Police should stop these religious bigots from spreading to other areas and inflaming and instigating innocent and unaware people too.
Nirmala, sitting beside Nafis, speaks about the love and care they have for their neighbours and each other despite the fact that they belong to different religion.
Chandrabai, an old lady speaks about the love, brotherhood and feeling of respect for each other in her neighbourhood. Unlike others, she does believe that the riot is culmination of the differences and animosity between Hindus and Muslims. She weeps a lot and becomes emotional regarding the topic. She tells a very important fact that when a certain section of group pelts stone at some residential place thinking that they belong to different group, they forget that they can harm their own people too.
Nafis underlines love over hatred as that can only help people to look beyond religious passions and sentiments. She doesn’t face any difficulties to help Hindus as the intention and determination is important. She prioritizes humanity over man-made religion.
She also discusses about stray arsons, throwing up bottles, bomb, setting house ablaze, mob violence, stabbing and other violent attacks.
Camera focuses and highlights the losses that these people have to face. The loss and pain they have to endure is life as well as property. Perpetrators of violence and vandalism had caused many damages but who is going to cough up compensation for damage.
Reshma Pawar wasn’t present when mob involved in violence and riot happened at her place. When she came back, she came to know about the horrific act. On seeing damages incurred on property and casualties she understood the seriousness of the issue. She alleges that Police don’t help Hindus. Allegedly, people were forced to leave the place according to her information.
The aftermath of bloodshed can be felt in the air. Roads are comparatively less crowded. Few vehicles are still plying on road. Few people have gathered the courage to come outside their home.
Community Based Organisation has announced their progamme that is going to be organized in the coming days. A man is reading the news while another man just passed by. Many other signboards are also erected. One of them is of Shiv Sena’s.
Interviewer is asking Noorjahan and Arifa to discuss about the riot. They have formed a group – Rahe Haq for Muslim women to discuss and solve their problems.
A beautiful scene is being shot of their child standing in the dark near door while the two ladies are talking to the YUVA correspondent.
Noorjahan speaks about Rahe Haq- a community to address and resolve the problems of women. Members of this group are women.
When they riots were going on in their locality, they were sitting at their home. Their chawl had never faced any such violent blows of communal activities before this. Police don’t act on time and neither arrests hooligans and religious bigots at the time of riot. Police’s indifference and laziness in lodging an FIR has also caused problem and inflamed the religious passion of people.
She narrates an incident where her Hindu neighbour was beaten and bashed by some Mulsim fanatic mob at a distance from her home; when she tried to help the battered man, objections were raised by her own community people and defamed her for helping a person belonging to another religion.
She also talks about association of political party in fuming the fires of communal riots in Bombay. She talks about religious tolerance - If people want to prosper as a society in a secular state like, India, people need to live peacefully with each other.
She tells this riot harms innocent people while religious bigots, political leaders who are instigated people, criminals and infiltrators are roaming freely.
Arifa discusses apathy of Police in controlling the communal mob. She reveals how certain section of Muslims thought that Police are only helping Hindus and not Muslims, that lead to aggravate the already hatred for Hindus. She also says that Police are not trained to control Communal Riots.
She also tells that not every person in her area is innocent; there are criminals and active people in this riot at her chawl. When she tries to pacify and make them understand to not aggravate the communal fire, she was mocked by them. She emphasizes on controlling these anti-national activities if the riot has to cease.
Some people got involved in the riotous crowd because of the fear. Fear that people who belong to another religion will cause harm and beat them. This fear instigated them to beat others to safeguard them from any possible damage. This foolish act of prevention flares up riot more.
Noorjahan tells if a person stop helping people belonging to another religion during riots, they are also increasing the crime.
They tells how criminals scorned at them when they tried to make them understand to not involve in riots, and infiltrate and corrupt other’s mind. They did not complain about these people to Police as they didn’t want to ignite the fires of communal riots.
Arifa was hoping that she could hear the news that the riot has stopped- no more death, no more rapes, and no more damages. She scoffs at massacre in the name of religion. Hence, she attempted to explain religious bigots to change their point of view and pacify and resolve the issue. But she was ridiculed by Muslim mobs to not interfere and was told that Hindus deserve the punishment as they are also doing the same. She explains how the hatred is increasing out of no evidence but on the basis of mere rumours from both sides.
She also discusses about her husbands’ intolerance in her involvement in solving the issue at her own area, and his religious intolerance too. She tells how men are not solving the sudden outburst of crisis and are also not encouraging their wives to participate in calming down the issue.
She discusses about the lack of basic facilities and necessity such as food, sanitation in times of curfew and riots as most of the shops are closed.
Noorjahan talks about the importance of women’s participation in daily affairs. She complains how people have to face the blows of arson and bottle for no reason of their own. Though she doesn’t have any personal problems with any Hindus, but Hindus in her neighborhood were scared to roam out or talk to any Muslim as they form the minority in that area.
She continues that Youth are the ones who participate in communal riots as they are aggressive but not mature. The fumes of religious differences igniting in the riots had created a gap between Hindu-Muslim relationships. Before the clutches of religious violence grabbed them, they had no idea who is Hindu or who is Muslim. But now a person is known as a Hindu and Muslim rather than a human.
She puts in picture about how police also took advantages of the situation. Arifa hears it with lot of emotions. Noorjahan narrates an incident where an MLA visited them but did not show any sensitivity to the grave issue or towards any people.
YUVA correspondent ask their opinion about the stereotypes – Muslims are illiterate and give birth to too many child that hampers the development of INDIA, and also about the rumour that is lingering in the air that Muslims are the ones who initiated the religious fight and actively participates in the riots.
To which they reply that the reason is unemployment. Leaders are not providing jobs to the man force, which is the building block of any economy. So the changes are also seen in Muslim community. Nowadays they are also doing family planning. Poverty has forced people to think about conceiving.
They discuss how unemployment leads to poverty. This forces them to take up the job of criminal activities such as Smuggling. They try to explain to these young people about the serious consequence of this work.
Correspondent asks about opinions of other Muslim. They say that if Political leaders wouldn’t have blown the issue out of proportion and decided on the issue within them, the riot could have been avoided. Moreover, the dissemination of news among public was a conscious decision to create bridge between Hindus and Muslims.
Noorjahan opines that young people want to show their strength hence they fall prey to criminals and in the process turn out to be criminals.
Arifa tells how Bombay riots had made her sensitive to the riots that have happened in other parts of the country before. She realized that death for religion is something that she doesn’t even want to think about for herself or for her anyone irrespective of their religion.
She also believes that fumes of hatred for one another will extinguish only if people would bring change in themselves.
Arifa says that men are the ones who take active participation in riots. She talks about her effort to reduce animosity among women. She also tries to make other women understand that stop their husband or sons or any other male member of their family to involve in riots and instill terror among general public.
She tells how this riot is not a revenge for personal differences but rather an ignorant act of committing the sin that will be fruitful to Political leaders. She also reveals that many people took advantage of the riot to revenge for their own personal differences.
(Some technical problem due to which sound is not audible)
YUVA had organized the camp to bring Muslims and Hindus together. Noorjahan tells that girls have interacted with each other but boys refused to do so.
She discusses about the differences among Hindu and Muslim boys but after the discussion and workshops in the camp, their animosity reduced. Through this anecdote, she highlights how the interaction can solve the problem.
She never had any issue with Hindus before, nor does she have now. But, the fear of being ostracized or the fear of being stabbed had caused a bridge between their relations.
They discuss why Jogeshwari had witnessed the problem more than any other parts in Mumbai. Reasons are the criminals who are already residing in the place, incepting the mind of young innocent boys with religious talks and also like to distraught poor common man. The chawl had witnessed sudden rise in crime and the gravity of the crime had also doubled, that is from stealing to communal riots, making it a dangerous place for survival.
Noorjahan speaks about her husband’s encouragement.
They say if on one hand they are trying to deter people from engaging in communal activities, on other hand religious leader likes Pandits and Mullahs are corrupting the masses.
Arifa tells how Mullahs justify the killing of Kafir to Muslim men. These men think all Hindus are Kafir and they need to be killed if they want to be termed as the real predecessor of Islam. She also tells that they don’t teach people about the exact definition of Kafir.
Arifa tells that she wanted her kids to be religious head, before she used to teach them what is Islam and the necessary to pray five times a day. Because she was taught like that! Nobody teaches them that work and earn money and food for three times a day.
She was told read religious text and she is going to get a blissful life and all that she got from her life after marriage is a big disappointment and lots of pain. Again, she was told endure pain; she is going to get a better after-life. She was helpless as nobody teaches them in the religion how to tackle problems and remove pain from life.
Nororjahan sends the message to Jogeshwari’s women – Stay in Unity and let not religion come in its way as the only way to prosperity is love, unity and peace.