For 26 yrs, Mus­lims have taken care of this tem­ple

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Mohd Dil­shad

Muzaf­far­na­gar: About a kilo­me­tre into the road that leads to Lad­dhe­wala in Muzaf­far­na­gar city, a dirty sign­post wel­comes visi­tors to this small, non­de­script lo­cal­ity. The lanes soon start get­ting nar­rower, about 4-foot-wide, be­tween rows of con­crete houses. In one sleepy cor­ner of an al­ley­way, cramped be­tween two build­ings, is a soli­tary tem­ple left be­hind by its Hindu house­holds some­time in the early 1990s, post the Babri Masjid de­mo­li­tion. Twenty six years later, this shrine is still main­tained by its Mus­lim neigh­bours, who clean it daily, white­wash it ev­ery Di­wali and pro­tect it from squat­ters and stray an­i­mals.

Me­har­baan Ali, 60, a res­i­dent of Mus­lim-dom­i­nated Lad­dhe­wala, still re­mem­bers the days when the Hindu fam­i­lies had left the area in the af­ter­math of com­mu­nal clashes. “Ji­ten­der Ku­mar was one of my clos­est friends. I tried to stop him from leav­ing, de­spite the ten­sion. But he left nev­er­the­less, along with many other fam­i­lies, with the promise that they would be back some day. Since then, res­i­dents here have been tak­ing care of the tem­ple,” he said.

There are around 35 Mus­lim fam­i­lies liv­ing in the lo­cal­ity and many of them, like Ali, are hope­ful of the re­turn of their Hindu neigh­bours. Lo­cals said that around 20 Hindu fam­i­lies were liv­ing here at that time and the tem­ple was built some­time around 1970.

“The shrine is reg­u­larly cleaned and its walls pe­riod- ically painted. We want them to come back and take con­trol of it,” said Za­heer Ah­mad, an­other lo­cal. Nadeem Khan, a for­mer lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal ward mem­ber, said, “Lo­cals pool in money ahead of Di­wali ev­ery year to get it white­washed. They make it a point to keep it clean ev­ery day.”

The tem­ple, how­ever, does not have an idol. “There used to be one be­fore 1992. When the fam­i­lies left, they took away the idol with them too,” added Ah­mad, who lives next to the shrine.

The tem­ple to­day is looked af­ter by res­i­dents Gulzar Sid-

Lo­cals liv­ing in the area clean the shrine daily and also pool in money ahead of Di­wali ev­ery year to get it white­washed

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