Communities keep peace during funeral

Muslim men offering chaddar on Balasaheb Thackeray's funeral cortege, burkha-clad women weeping at his bier and a surprisingly subdued Urdu press pointing out the positive aspects of his life.

Such gesture by communities perhaps helped avoid any confrontation between Sainiks and Muslims. No untoward incident was reported from Muslim-dominated pockets of Bhendi Bazaar, Dongri, Malvani and Jogeshwari.

While Sainiks exercised utmost restraint, the community's role in ensuring that things do not get out of hand cannot be underscored. "The police did a fantastic job by beefing up security. However, there was also an attempt on the part of the community to ensure that no one is given an opportunity to vitiate the atmosphere," said Bashir Musa Patel, former MLA from Umerkhadi.

Patel, who stays in Dongri, claimed that the community members were resolute that they would not allow a repeat of any communal violence in the city.

"After the Azad Maidan incident and the way Muslim youth was targeted by the police, the community is unanimous that peace needs to be maintained," said Fareed Batatawala, president of the Muslim Front.

Many also believe that the Urdu press was neutral in analysing Bal Thackeray's career. "The Urdu press at large played a neutral role. Thackeray was indeed criticised on his communal leanings, but the Urdu press also wrote about the positive aspects of his personality. This helped in toning down the antagonism against him," journalist Aleem Faizee said.

Members of the Muslim intelligentsia claim that the credit for maintaining calm rested with members of the community. "A few days before he passed away, we were discussing what should be done to stop the possible outbreak of violence. Leaders discussed this, but we never reached out to the community. I am happy that despite this, the Muslim youth had the maturity to maintain peace," director of Markazul Maarif Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi said.

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