The meeting started with the screening of Mera Ghar Behrampada. Around 35 people were present for the film screening, majority of them were young girls but there were around 4 middle aged and elderly women and there were 2 young women who had come with their young sons.
After the film, our discussion began with Shireen sharing what she has heard about the Bombay riots. She told us that she knows that riots had happened between Hindus and Muslims “Jab Babri Masjid Shaheed Huwi”. Taking off from what Shireen said, Swatija who was present for the meeting spoke about the present context, about how communalism is very much present today as well and the strong hold that religion has on people.
After that, another participant recounted her experiences of the riots, how houses were looted, burnt, how people were killed and how so many families were forced to move from their original residences.
Swatija pointed how what happened in Bombay in 1992-1993 was a dent in the mixed and diverse fabric of Bombay, it consumed all of Bombay and although there might not be physical acts of violence between the two communities, the relationship between the two has been affected. She spoke about how Muslims had to move to areas that were not infrastructural well equipped; she gave an example form the movie where a Muslim says how the only job they had in the evening was that of swatting mosquitoes.
The discussion then went to the role of the police during and after the riots and how no action has been taken against the police that was complicit in the riots and this is a major setback. Swatija said that we need to change this story of Bombay. Participants said that she didn’t want her children to suffer the same oppression that she suffered.
Swatija brought back the question of the relevance today of what happened 20 years ago and Ruksar spoke about her and her family weren’t directly affected but her area was affected and how there are effects even today. For instance, any fight that occurs today is given a communal, Hindu versus Muslim twist. She also spoke about the Marathi identity and how that is also used to perpetrate hatred against Muslims.
At this point, Rehana said that even Hindus were affected in the riots. The discussion again came back to how Muslims aren’t helped by the police and are instead targeted by them.
Swatija spoke about how rape was also used in the riots of 1992-1993 and how it is very important for all of us to come together and raise our voice against this violence. She spoke about the loss of trust that we see today and how it is important to remember what happened 20 years ago so that we can stand up to it today.
After this we walked to Kurla Station and stood there with the banner and distributed leaflets about the campaign and spoke to the commuters.