Kaval Ramleela an enactment of composite culture
The village, which was the flashpoint for communal clashes in 2013, today fosters amity and brotherhood, with the Muslim population lending significant support to Ramleela, Dussehra and other events and Hindus reciprocating the gestures.
MEERUT The Ramleela in Kaval village is a scintillating display of communal harmony and brotherhood, notwithstanding the fact that this very village triggered fierce communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in 2013. People of Kawal still nurture harmony and brotherhood which is evident from the fact that members of both communities participate in festivals together and help each other in times of need.
Situated on Muzaffarnagar- Bijnor Road, Kawal has a population of approximately 14,000 people. It is predominantly Muslim, with Sainis having the largest share in Hindu population.
The villagers, who boast of staging the Ramleela in the village for the past eight decades, have ensured that the shadow of riots and hatred does not touch it.
Village Pradhan Mohd Islam Qureshi shared that in 2013, riots broke out in the district barely a month before staging of Ramleela. The district administration was pressured that the Ramleela should not be stopped but officials were worried about allowing it to take place amid prevailing tension.
Islam said that Muslims came out to resolve the issue and gave the district administration in writing that Ramleela should be organised and they would ensure that no untoward incident took place.
Islam said that this gesture of promoting brotherhood helped in reviving lost trust between both communities and Muslims still extended their full support to festivals like Ramleela, Dussehra and Kanwar Yatra in the village. Hindus too visited them to wish them on Eid. He further claimed that a large number of Muslims watched the Ramleela daily and supported it in every possible way.
Islam said that officials of the Ramleela Committee invited him and MLA Vikram Saini to inaugurate the event every year and Muslims even donated money to ensure their contribution in it.
Kawal is the native village of BJP’s fomer MLA Vikram Saini, who was also an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. He was disqualified from the state assembly following the verdict of a court in which he was found guilty and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
Vikram Saini said that people respected each other in the village and claimed, “Muslims extend their full support to the Ramleela and Kanwar Yatra in the village,” adding that they watched the Ramleela and never tried to create any issue..
Prabhat Kumar, president of the Ramleela Committee, also acknowledged full support of Muslims in organising Ramleela in the village. “No Muslim plays a role in it but all extend their support during procession of Rambarat and actively participate in Dussehra Mela and other events “, said Prabhat. He said the village pradhan even helped the Ramleela Committee financially and ensured cleanliness in the village and Ramleela ground during the festival.
Former pradhan Mahendra Saini, however, said that the enthusiasm and participation of Muslims in organising Ramleela and other Hindu festivals has gone down after the 2013 riots. But he said the village still strongly believed in communal harmony and brotherhood and members of both communities were working for it.
He cited the name of a villager Nizamu and said that he had been playing ‘dholak’ in the Ramleela for years. Like hi, there were others too who extend their support to the Ramleela in their own way.
Village pradhan Islam said that he and other Muslim villagers showered flower petals on Kanwariyas in the village during Kanwar Yatra and arranged water and food for them.
Most villagers in Kaval believe that harmony and brotherhood among people got sabotaged for some time after the riots but were gradually revived over time.
Advocate Shamshad Chaudhary said that people understood that they needed each other’s help and support and that could be achieved only by promoting brotherhood and unity.
To recall, in 2013, fierce communal clashes broke out in Kaval following lynching of two brothers Sachin and Gaurav of the village after they allegedly stabbed to death a Muslim boy over a minor accident. The riots spread, claiming lives of 62 people, with over 50,000 being displaced.