Nayagaon Akbarpur Chhendri (Kanth): A loudspeaker was installed in a small temple at Kanth in Moradabad last Friday. Muslim and Hindu villagers sat together with the local authorities and agreed to install it for a few days on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
What happened in just an hour of discussion would have appeared “almost impossible” a few months ago, the villagers said.
They spoke of the “mutual distrust” between the two communities and attempts of political players to polarise the region over the issue. Last June, the situation became tense after BJP workers violently protested against the removal of the loudspeaker by the administration, which acted on complaints registered by a member of the minority community. Tragically, during the protests, the then Moradabad District Magistrate Chandrakant lost vision in one eye.
Residents of Kanth, where Dalits and Muslims live in a closely knit society, told The Hindu that political players in the region were trying to polarise the village by engaging in “competitive communal politics” ahead of the by-polls in western Uttar Pradesh in September.
Alok, a scrap seller on the outskirts of the village, felt quite strongly about the peace of the village being a “casualty” in the aftermath of the controversy. “The issue of loudspeaker over a temple or a mosque is a simple issue that we could have sorted out had the political parties not jumped and made it a Hindu-Muslim issue,” he said. Despite being a high-school dropout, Alok said he was “wise enough” to see that political parties tried to cash in on the controversy. “You must notice the fact that no political leader visits the village once the by-polls were over in September last year,” he added.
Moradbad MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh of the BJP had promised the Dalit community, which worships in the temple, to ensure that the temple got a permanent loudspeaker, Alok said. Mr. Singh along with other BJP MPs and Anisurrahman — the local MLA from the Peace Party, a relatively new political outfit — were at the forefront of an agitation against the decision to remove the loudspeaker.
The BJP also planned to organise a Mahapanchayat over the issue, but the local administration banned it, leading to the protests in which Mr. Chandrakant lost sight in one of his eyes.