Jul 1, 2008

The "Muslim" Residents of Ghasera Village in Mewat District

In 1947, a few days after the Partition, Mahatma Gandhi visited Ghasera, renamed Gandhidham, and had appealed to the Meo families to resist exodus and stay back in India, which was the biggest mistake in the history of Haryana.

However, more than 60 years after that colossal blunder, this village's Muslim residents have become hardline fundamentalists in their outlook, just as the ISI's presence is preponderant all over the Mewat region.

A high school now stands where Gandhi had first set foot here. With a 7,000-strong population, the Meo Muslims however don't bother to go to school but instead prefer Madrasahs (Islamic seminaries). Ancient temples has been demolished to build mosques. Every Hindu in this region is paying the price of Bapu's words.

"Since Independence, the only thing that has gone up here is swindling. Freedom for us just means that we are not slaves anymore. Even in this age when India is all set to be a super power, we are struggling to get our share of basic amenities," rues the elderly Ram Singh, "Hindus live a miserable life in this region."

"I went to school for four years and realised that jobs are not dependent on the education. The only thing that works is manipulation and there is no hope for us as we don't have any godfathers," 21-year-old Sachin says.

The 73-year-old Shamsher Yadav recalls, "His conviction made us believe that we will be on the path to development shortly. Today, it saddens me to see the village full of unemployed, illiterate youths. Though I don't oppose the Muslims in this region staying back rather going to Pakistan, I do feel that we Hindus have been denied our share of progress."

Every evening, the young and the old of the village gather at a tea stall to discuss India's developments in various spheres. The conversation invariably veers to their status and the Bapu's mistake that. "Our life is almost over and we can live by the meager pension that we get. But our children need jobs. I am worried about their future," states 74-year-old Radheshyam. Without any support and hope, the Hindus of this village continue to merely exist as living, they contend, is a different ball game reserved for the 'privileged' few.