Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Muslims in Haryana: No radio, TV, photograph in this Muslim town in Mewat

Mundogarhi is a predominantly Muslim town in Mewat region of Haryana. Huge minarets of the mosque catch your attention as you go past this town on the National Highway.

The town is situated almost at an equal distance from both Delhi and Chandigarh, but there is no radio or television. None of the inhabitants has a photograph and they strictly follow the tradition even if they miss out on many things.

From a loan application to a ration card, a photograph is needed for every document but Mundogarhi residents don't have any regrets.

There is no radio or TV in any house. 'I have heard music in the bus when I went out of the town', said a youth.

Ban on getting yourself photographed

Regarding the ban on photo, an influential person of the Mewati 'biradari' says, 'Man has no power to create any living being and if we get someone photographed, can we put life in this photo? 'We can't and thus it is a sin to get oneself photographed'.

Music is banned though some women said that they wished having a radio to listen to music and pass their time. An 18-year-old youth told the Sahara Samay correspondent, who visited the Mundagarhi town that he was learning English alphabets now.

It could have been a very good story had the correspondent Madhuri Singh and the Sahara anchor Punya Prasun Bajpai desisted from making unwarranted comments and passing judgments [though Bajpai was a bit restrained in comparison].

Mewat: The land of Mev [or Meo] 

The reporters's condescending attitude while talking to the women and the Maulana was irritating. After all, things don't change overnight. The town is situated on the GT Karnal Road and it is quite easy to reach the town to do the story.

There are countless other towns in far rural areas where the reporter may not have ventured. It is true that educational backwardness exists in Mewat. This region has one of the lowest rates of literacy amongst Muslim women in India.

In Firozpur Jhirka the literacy rate was just 1.49%. But the role of Panchayats and 'biradiris' whose writ runs large on the communities is not religion-specific alone. Rather across the Western UP, Harayana and parts of Rajasthan, the situation is more or less same.

The onus is equally on Muslim organisations as much on government and the NGOs to work in the region and open schools for changing the scenerio.

And yes, an amusing conversation I recall from the story:

Reporter: Yeh bachche madarse mein hil hil kar kyun paDhte haiN
Maulana: Is se bachche sust nahin rahte aur padhaai andar tak ghus jaati hai


[The question was about why the children keep moving forward and backward while reading in Madarsa. The reply was that it ensures that whatever they read goes deep down within the students and settles firmly.]