I have often heard the phrase, “It’s not easy to be a Muslim in India”. Therefore, I set out on a social experiment with just one objective on my mind, to feel the emotions of a Muslim on the streets. The streets of Delhi were my arena and the mindset of the people was my opponent. Even though I did have a preconceived notion about the subject, I was surprised by the result..
The experiment lasted two days in which I travelled via the Delhi Metro and buses in Noida. During these trips, I travelled through areas which were Muslim and Hindu majority respectively. Apart from this I just had a simple Kufi on my head and this skull cap made all the difference.
Deplorable glances, suspicious eyes and a ray of hope, these words define a majority of my experiment. The moment this idea came up on my mind, I was time and again warned about the dangers of doing the same, “What if someone harms you, these are sensitive times. What if people get to know that you are not a Muslim, won’t people be aggravated at you?” Even though these concerns stormed through my head time and again but still I knew that I had to investigate this through.
I started my journey from Jasola Vihar, Shaheen Bagh metro station on the Magenta line. The area is a Muslim majority one and thus didn’t give me any ‘special’ attention. Moving forward I got down at Okhla NSIC and exited the station. As I walked towards the GrubHub café, some glances from here and there started. But nothing too intimidating. I again entered the station and here things were different for me. Travelling via the Delhi metro, one becomes pretty used to the frisking done by the security personnel. But as I walked through the security gate the security took a good view of my Kufi and then did a thorough frisking of me. Checking each and every pocket of mine. To be honest it did feel a bit uncomfortable but I was mentally ready for this.
As I boarded the metro for Botanical Garden Metro station, a girl of around 10 years was siting besides an empty seat and so I, considering myself lucky to find an empty seat in the metro sat there. But my move made the father of the child a bit uneasy and he commanded his child to stand with him. This gentleman also did not let his child get the comfort of sitting just because a man with a kufi was sitting adjacently.
As I got down on Botanical Garden, I boarded a bus to Greater Noida. The same suite followed. Another man preferred to stand rather than sitting beside me. The whole trip was, to my surprise, filled with a lesser number of glances and nudges.
The second day was what I really wanted it to be, perfectly normal. It seemed that people were not at all uncomfortable with my kufi and even the metro security personnel weren’t giving me any preferential treatment.
The whole experiment taught me that even though some people may have preconceived reservations about other minorities, the larger part of the nation looks upon everyone as fellow citizens rather than Hindus, Muslims, Christians, etc. Thereby I can say that even though the darkness of prejudice exists there also exists a ray of hope which fills up our hearts and our nation with not only tolerance but also secularism.
Feature Image Credits: Vistapointe
Aniket Singh Chauhan