So it happened. My native place, a village of 700, had 5-6 Muslim families. It was early 1990s and the people lived in good harmony. Muslims were Muslims like Marathas were Marathas, Kunbis were Kunbis, Dhangars were Dhangars, and Beldars were Beldars. My uncle was Sarpanch, an RSS volunteer and BJP position holder. Village had a daily baal-shakha.
So, those were the 1990s and Ram Mandir movement reached our village. There were mini-Rathyatras around too and one came in our village. In those days, we heard that the Muslims in our village were “good Muslims”, for example, Rauf Seth gave his golden ring to one of those the Ram raths.
But then the Muslims started to leave. The village had to migrate due to an upcoming dam. People were allotted plots at a place nearby. Marathas, Kunbis, Dhangars and Beldars shifted from old village to new village. Muslims left the village altogether. They didn’t come to the new village. They moved to another village, some 20-30 km away, that had sizeable Muslim population. We heard that they left because the Muslim community was not willing to marry their girls in a village where Muslims were only a few. Perhaps, they didn’t feel it safe anymore, after the Babri masjid demolition, to live in a village with such strong RSS influence. Perhaps, being “good Muslims” for an RSS village wasn’t good for them. I don’t know the reasons. I was a kid of not even 10.
One elderly couple stayed. They shifted from old village to new one with the Marathas and Kunbis and Dhangars and Beldars. They lived there till the old lady died. My uncle, the RSS waala, took up all expenses of her last rites. Afterwards, the husband left village too.
No one talked of an Exodus. My village itself never had any communal tension, but perhaps the whole atmosphere changed after the Babari. Perhaps, the “good Muslims” saw the villagers as “good Hindus”, but there was something they weren’t sure about — “Will it be good enough to be just good ‘despite being Muslims’ in the changing scenario?” I don’t know. I was too young to think of these things. I only knew RSS are good people, Muslims in our village are “good Muslims.” I, perhaps subconsciously, knew that the term “good Muslims” itself implies existence of “bad Muslims” too. At that young age, Rashtra was Hindu Rashtra and Rashtrabhakti was what I learnt from my uncle. In hindsight, when I see, I see my uncle was a “good RSS waala”.
So as it happened, my village has no Muslims anymore. Neither have the 3-4 villages in the vicinity. The kids born after 1995 in my village have not seen any Muslims neighbors. We haven’t been to any Muslim households. I myself hadn’t been to a Muslim household till I visited Shams bhai’s place in 2014.
I don’t know why I’m writing this, but I wanted to write about it for long. It’s sad. People, who were living there for generations, felt it wasn’t prudent to stay there further. We were a tiny village. But those words – Ayodhya, Babri – reached us, for no reason. My parents still talk reverently of the elders in those Muslim families. Many of those died. Some of them, the younger ones, sometimes meet the village oldies in town on market days and they talk like relatives met after a long while: ” Chachi kaisi hai? Sharif kahaan hai ab? Sharif ki ladki ki shaadi? Baap re..” We, the newer generations, don’t even know them.
What was it that happened? Who gained from it? Who lost? No one knows. As it stands now, we have no Muslims in the village.
P.S. I wrote it as I saw it as a kid of 10. Please don’t take out conclusions.