for The Times of India on May 17, 2008
Designed to drive a wedge between the city's Hindus and Muslims, Tuesday's terror attack in Jaipur was meant to change all that. But it didn't happen. "Whoever was trying to divide the two communities has failed," says Muslim restaurateur Kallu. It is 72 hours since the blasts and the Hindus are not back in big numbers yet. But Kallu, judging by the mood of the city and the way it has reacted everywhere, is sure that there won't be any big cracks in the relationship.
Apart from the respect for each other that comes with a sharing of lives, professional interdependence between the two communities has gone a long way in ensuring that the quality of relations doesn't dip. "Even in a restaurant like mine, there is plenty of inter-dependence. We buy ghee, oil, flour, vegetables, spices — everything from Hindus. I operate in cash but I am also open to credit with them," says Kallu.
Sitting outside Zahiruddin's Naeem Book Depot, Abdul Wahid says that many Muslim women make embroideries on fabrics. The factory owners who give them work are Hindus. "It's an economy of inter-dependence," he says. A few Muslims sitting around the shop reveal that they just hoped that the blasts would not cause a negative fall-out. "But the fact that there have been no repercussions shows that the worst is behind us. The maturity shown by citizens of Jaipur is an example to the world," says Wahid.
I P S Bagga, former president of Hawa Mahal Bazar Vyapar Mandal, estimates that Muslims form about 50% of shop owners in the Hawa Mahal area, about 35% in Johari Bazar and about 5% in Bapu Bazar. In several city-based industries such as gems and stones, shoes, fabrics — the workers and the owners often are from different communities.
Figures are hard to come by but everyone admits that a majority of the artisans employed in cutting, polishing and shaping are Muslims. The owners are both Hindus and Muslims. Bagga sums up the situation: "The serial blasts have saddened people. But Hindu and Muslim shop owners have always cooperated with each other. That will never change."