Muslims selling puja items near makeshift Ram Temple in Hanuman Garhi

By Mumtaz Alam Falahi,, series: Ayodhya 2009

Support TwoCircles

It is 5:30 pm, puja time. I am standing in a crowded lane, meters away from the makeshift Ram Temple erected on the debris of Babri Masjid in Hanuman Garhi, Ayodhya on 6th December 1992. Shops on either side are packed with items used in temples. Sadhus, saints, pujaris and visitors to the temple have kept the lane and shops busy. The environment is heavy with signs, songs and chants of Hindu religion. It may be unthinkable for many outsiders that any Muslim will be there in that area. But no, there are. And they are many.

Many Muslim businesspersons are doing good business in that lane of Hanuman Garhi by selling pure Hindu ritual items. There are more than 10 families also residing in the area.

Meet Zohra Khatoon, 50-year-old businesswoman. Native of Hanuman Garhi, Zohra runs a shop outside her home. She is selling drums, manjira, sindur, bangles, dafli, chheenka, kartal, dhoop, lota, and several other things used in temple. She is widow, and successfully runs the family with this business.

“My family is living here for the last 300 years. I get lot of respect from Hindus here. There is no communal feeling of Hindu-Muslim,” Zohra tells

This is Muhammad Kaleem, another businessman in Hanuman Garhi. Kaleem, 55, is also native of Hanuman Garhi. He is selling wooden sandals and other items like chatti, chauka, belan etc for the last 20 years. He is happy, has no complaint against the locals.

“Hindus and Muslims are living here peacefully and happily. It is only outsiders who create problems and provoke locals,” Kaleem tells TCN. He had to flee the area on 6th December 1992 when the karsevaks were on killing spree.

Dr Samrat Ashok, resident of Hanuman Garhi, says there is complete communal harmony here. “Muslims and Hindus are living very peacefully. There is no communal feeling here. Troubles are created here by outsiders who come here for politics. There are Muslim businessmen here in this Hanuman Garhi lane leading to the disputed site. They are selling wooden sandals generally used by pundits and pujaris, malas, drums and other items used in temples,” says Dr Samrat Ashok. There are more than 10 Muslim families in the area. They respect each other’s culture, he adds.