A Muslim-dominated colony in New Delhi waiting for roads, water for 25 yrs
By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net
New Delhi: If you are a stranger and airdropped in this locality, I
am sure you won’t even imagine that you are in the National Capital of
India. You will be more surprised when told that you are a few
kilometers from the Parliament House and Rashtrapati Bhawan and at
equal distance from the Delhi State Assembly House. You are in Kacchi
Khajuri, a Muslim-dominated colony in North-East Delhi. The government
is spending over Rs 800 crore on infrastructure for Commonwealth Games
2010, just a few kilometres from here, but this locality has been
waiting for road and drinking water for over a quarter century.
Kacchi Khajuri is a predominantly Muslim locality in New Delhi, but
like many other Muslim-dominated areas in the country, this too is
highly neglected in terms of civic amenities, drinking water, roads,
schools and hospitals.
People started living here in 1983. Most of them came, and are still
coming, from Western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They are mostly from
labor classes or do small businesses. 25 years on, and they are living
without pucca roads and drinking water facility – electricity reached
here very recently. With no roads, there is no drainage system, making
the area a big drain or pond of garbage in rainy season. Interestingly,
the Kacchi Khajuri area, now populated by about 80,000 people (80-90%
Muslims), is surrounded by deep long drain from one side and a pond
from other side, yet there is no proper drainage system connecting the
lanes and bylanes of the locality to the drain or pond.
“Labor class people are living here. Very few have their own
businesses. Illiteracy is rampant. Government has shown little interest
in this locality. Since the colony came into existence, there has been
no drinking water facility. There is no pucca road either. With no
drainage system, lanes and bylanes are littered with filth and garbage,
causing various diseases among the residents,” says Muhammad Abdullah,
Imam, Jama Masjid Tayyeba – the oldest mosque of the colony.
To keep an area clean is certainly the responsibility of a civic
body but how the residents as Muslims can shy away from their
responsibility to keep their homes and the bylanes clean by sparing an
area for garbage rather than letting a heap of garbage piling just in
front of their home.
The government here has just two things that it can claim to be its
own: a primary school – for an area of 80,000 population, denoting how
sincere the State is about education of the largest minority of the
country; and a police station, clearly exposing the mindset of the
government about the Muslim community — they need no road, no drinking
water, no ration shop and no hospital but they surely need a police
Yes, besides road and water, Kacchi Khajuri has also no government
ration shop and no state-run dispensary or hospital. This is no
Bengali-speaking Muslim dominated area over which hovers a cloud of
suspicion about their being Indian citizens, and thus door of
development is shunted on such areas. They are Hindi-speaking people
from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, genuinely Indian citizens beyond any
shred of doubt. They have extended families in their native states.
They have election IDs here and cast votes in elections to choose their
representatives, religiously. And yet, they are living as second-class
Muhammad Abdullah, Imam, Jama Masjid Tayyeba, has been leading
prayers in this mosque since 1992. He is paid about Rs 2000 per month
by the locals. The mosque, where Friday prayers are also held, is as
old as the colony. The mosque isn’t yet complete as it is half covered
by roof and the floor out of the roofed area is not even plastered. The
Imam is from Gorakhpur in UP.
Meet this boy from Darbhanga in Bihar. He has been living here with
his family for over one year. He sells cold water for Re-1 per glass,
and thus supports his family.
Muhammad Waris is from Bijnore in UP. He shifted here three years ago. He has six children. He works at a small printing shop.
This is the normal pattern of the socio-economic condition of this locality – either they are laborers or do small businesses.
Though poor, Waris wishes to give good education to his children but
fears he can’t. The area with about one lakh population has just one
primary school run by Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and no other
government school. So, people are forced to send their children to
private schools if they can afford, or just drop the idea to educate
“I have four daughters. I want to educate them and make them big
people like Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Mayawati, but I lack
resources. If I could have money I would educate them at good schools,
otherwise will drop the idea altogether to educate them,” says Waris.
This is Abdur Rahman from Bijnore. His family is here for over 10
years. The 17-year-old boy Abdur Rahman learns Arabic and Persian at
Jama Masjid Tayyeba where a temporary madrasa is run by the masjid
committee. He has completed 10th from open schooling system.
There are about 23 mosques in the colony but no formal madrasa or
community run school. Yes, some maktabs are being run in some mosques.
One reason for low education rate here is poverty. “People are
mostly laborers, and so need earning hands as early as possible and
thus very few send their children to school,” says the Imam. After
primary schooling, fewer send their children to high school or senior
secondary school that are in Pucci Khajuri, a Hindu-dominated area on
the other side of the Pushta Road that divides Khajuri Khas area into
Kacchi Khajuri and Pucci Khajuri.
A road that divides an area into two – one developed, another backward
Kacchi Khajuri and Pucci Khajuri are part of Khajuri Khas area. The
Pushta Road linking Delhi with Uttar Pradesh divides Khajuri Khas into
two localities, not only geographically but also development-wise. The
Hindu-dominated Pucci Khajuri has all facilities including High
Schools. Boys from the dominating community of Gurjars in Pucci Khajuri
harass boys and girls from Kacchi Khajuri – the Muslim-dominated area.
And here lies the second reason why literacy is low in Kacchi Khajuri.
Pucci Khajuri has Government Boys and Girls Senior Secondary School.
It has Government Sarvodaya Boys and Girls School. A deadly stampede at
government senior secondary school on September 10 – in which five
girls (three Muslims) from Kacchi Khajuri area were killed and scores
others injured – has further alienated Kacchi Khajuri residents from
Pucci Khajuri. An independent fact-finding team has concluded that the
stampede was caused by sexual harassment of girls from Kacchi Khajuri
by the boys from Pucci Khajuri. Now the area of victims demands
upgradation of the lone government primary school into senior secondary
school, at least for girls, at this stage. Otherwise, many have made up
mind to withdraw their girls from the school.
On the surface there is no communal tension between the two
localities. However, one can feel anger and disappointment in residents
of Kacchi Khajuri.
The two colonies came into being almost at the same time but one,
dominated by Gurjars, got progress and development very fast while the
Muslim area was left to lurch. Besides schools, the Pucci Khajuri area
has drinking water facilities, government ration shop, a hospital and
pucca roads, leaving Kacchi Khajuri seething with anger. Their women
and children have to cross accident-prone Pushta Road to fetch drinking
water and ration from Pucci Khajuri. While Pucci Khajuri got status of
authorised colony long ago, Kacchi Khajuri got the same only recently.
The ward councilor of the area (Mr Ranbeer) is from Congress while
the MLA (Mr Mohan Singh Bisht) – who has more power and grants at his
command for developmental work in his area – is a BJP man. When people
of Kacchi Khajuri approach the BJP MLA he does not listen to them
saying they did not vote for him, say the residents. The area falls in
the Karawal Nagar Assembly segment in Northeast Delhi, a minority
concentration district, with a population of 17,63,712 (Census 2001).
The MP of this Lok Sabha constituency is Mr Jaiprakash Aggarwal, a
While the people of Kacchi Khajuri elect their representatives
regularly as a religious duty development has so far eluded them. They
don’t know how long this will go on.