8 June 2014
PUNE: The 1.30pm namaz at the mosque in Unnati Nagar, Hadapsar, on Saturday had the usual gathering but something was different. Many had changed their attire and a handful their appearance — Pathani suits had made way for trousers and shirts and a few young men had shaved off their beards.
The brutal murder of Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh on June 2 allegedly by members of Hindu Rashtra Sena has left them worried. The 28-year-old IT manager was targeted in Hadapsar by the hate mob as he stood out in his beard, skull cap and Pathani suit.
At least 25 Muslim families, who have been living in Unnati Nagar locality for the past 40 years, say there has never been any communal tension before. A local resident said, “Our Hindu neigbours are with us. It’s the outsiders who have done this.” Police have said 30-40 young men from the outskirts had attacked Mohsin, of whom 17 have been arrested.
“I feel scared sporting a beard and going out for work. So my two friends and I collectively took a decision to shave off the beard till the law and order situation improves in the area,” said a 28-year-old resident who did not wish to be named. “I have only trimmed my beard all these years, but this is for the first time I felt the need to look different, at least for some time.” Others say they have stopped wearing the skull cap when they step out of their homes.
Hindu families too are shaken, more so because the locality is known for its unity. A shopkeeper recalled how Muslims in the area built a Ganpati temple many years ago. “There has been no quarrel, leave alone a clash, among the two communities here. We are united and we have already held a peace meeting,” said Rajesh Lad, the LIC agent outside whose office Mohsin, a manager in a textile firm’s IT unit, was attacked.
On Monday night, even the police said they were taken aback when first reports of the attack reached them. Local policemen were dealing with tension elsewhere following some objectionable posts on social networking sites.
Shahin Anjuman Masjid Trust has demanded that Satav Plot’s Lane No 2, where Mohsin was murdered, be named after him. Mohsin offered prayers at this mosque twice every day.
A resident, Ayub Ibrahim Nalband, said the tension that gripped the area following the murder has impacted business as most shops now remain closed in the afternoon, unlike in the past.
Sayed Qutubuddin, a recovery agent with a bank, said, “I have always offered namaz in kurta-pyjama. But over the past few days, I have switched to shirts and trousers.” He said unless those who killed Mohsin were brought to book, the community would continue to live in fear.
On Saturday afternoon, locals did not rush home after the namaz, but stayed back to discuss if they should indeed change their appearance for the time being. Most Muslim residents of this locality run grocery shops or have small-time jobs such as lifting goods — work that keeps them in public view. “We are wondering if we too should change our appearance. These are bad times and we should not be attacked,” said a local trader.
Nadim Shafi Mujawar, president of the Maharashtra Muslim Front said, “Muslims are still living in a state of fear and are even afraid of stepping out of their houses ever since Mohsin was brutally killed. Muslims wearing skull caps and Pathani suits have changed their attire apprehending trouble that some thing may happen to them.”
Mujawar said, “We want the state government to ban Hindu Rastra Sena and punish the members responsible for the murder and for creating trouble in the city. Muslims here will continue to live in a state of fear if no immediate measures are taken by the government.”
TIMES OF INDIA