Ahmad Masood / Reuters
Vishank Singh took admission in Jamia Millia Islamia, he realized it would take
him two hours to reach the campus from his present address in north Delhi. It,
therefore, made sense for him to shift to a home closer to the university.
nobody from Vishank's family objected to him staying in what has often been
described as a Muslim ghetto, he did attract some curiosity while shifting to
Jamia Nagar. "The transport loader who was helping me shift got a little
scared when he came to know the address. He said that only Muslims live over
here," says Vishank.
stays in a flat situated in Ghaffar Manzil with two of his classmates. While
one is a Bengali, the other happens to be a Kashmiri Pandit. Vishank doesn't
believe in organized religion but he keeps a painting of Lord Krishna in his
never faced religious discrimination... My Muslim landlord has come to our flat
several times but he never objected to Lord Krishna's painting in my room.
have never faced any religious discrimination in Jamia Nagar. My Muslim
landlord has come to our flat several times but he never objected to Lord
Krishna's painting which I've put up in my room," says Vishank.
from Kanpur city of Uttar Pradesh, Vishank earlier resided in the
Muslim-dominated locality of Chamanganj in his home city. "I find the
Muslims of Jamia Nagar to be far more progressive than the ones I've lived with
before. I think that is because Muslims here have had access to
education," says Vishank.
police came for identity verification of tenants at Vishank's accommodation,
they were surprised to find three Hindu boys living together in Jamia Nagar.
policeman who was the same caste as me told us that if you face any difficulty
then kindly contact me. But I never encountered any such problem," he
the local police haven't been as gracious towards every resident of Jamia
Javed Sultan was living with a friend in Jamia Millia Islamia's hostel when the
infamous Batla House encounter took place in 2008. Post the encounter, Javed
started feeling increasingly unsafe in the area.
detentions were common. It was a very difficult period for everyone in Jamia
Nagar, especially those who were living alone. I decided to move to Laxmi Nagar
where a few of my relatives were staying," says Javed.
Nagar, he found his neighbours to be extremely good. He developed a very close
bond with one of the families.
during Ramadan when I used to go for the Morning Prayer, some people looked at
me as if I was an alien," says Javed.
returned to Jamia Nagar after two years when he became a permanent employee of
Jamia Millia Islamia. "It is better to live within your own community. I
have friends and colleagues residing here. My office is also hardly one
kilometre away from my place," says Javed. He says that he still doesn't
feel entirely safe here but realizes that one can be made a scapegoat no matter
where one lives.
claims of Jamia Nagar being a centre of Muslim extremism and fundamentalism, he
states that good and bad people can be found everywhere.
who say such things have heard stories and never got a chance to hang out with
people of Jamia Nagar. Many non-Muslim students of the university live in Jamia
Nagar. I guess they are all living happily," says Javed.
that it is incorrect to label the whole of Jamia Nagar as a Muslim colony, but
he does assert that one can find more educated Muslims here than in Old Delhi,
Seelampur or any other Muslim-dominated area in the city.
academicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and officers stay in Jamia Nagar. Even
former Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid lives here," claims
Gowhar Farooq moved from Srinagar to New Delhi. He was initially living in
Lajpat Nagar but soon moved to Batla House.
Nagar was expensive. Also, as a person who heard Azaan (the Muslim call for
prayer) five times every day in Srinagar, Lajpat was different," says
believes that a preference for living alongside their community members is not
restricted to Muslims. "Why should we question them if they (Muslims) do
so? Other minorities also prefer living together. There is nothing wrong in it.
Also, considering the communal tensions post the Babri Masjid demolition,
Muslims prefer living among their community members," he adds.
economic and security reasons-- as well as because of alienation and
discrimination--many Muslims continue to dwell in localities where they are in