Vishwa Bhanu, a resident of Malad West, Mumbai, who is associated with the movie industry as an actor, wrote on Facebook today about the ordeal he suffered on the occasion of Diwali as a consequence of the intolerance of his Muslim neighbours. He said that her wife was not being allowed to light up their house on Diwali and he was forced to remove the lights by the mob.
OpIndia.com got in touch with Bhanu. We were told that he was at the Police station to register a complaint in the matter. Bhanu told OpIndia.com that he is a resident of a society in Malad West that falls under the Malvani Police Station. The society is predominantly Muslim with only one Hindu family apart from him, we were told.
The ordeal began when his wife bought new lights for Diwali and wanted to decorate their house for the festival. But when she put it up, Muslims in the locality descended at his place and wanted the lights removed. They claimed that the lights were giving electric shocks and as there were kids in the neighbourhood, it was risky. His wife objected to the claims and said that nothing of the sort was happening.
The mob then proceeded to damage the lights and tore the wires open, and then used the open wires to claim that the lights could give people electric shocks. Women and children were also participating in the harassment. Numerous communal slurs were hurled as well. The mob claimed that Hindus mix urine in everything and one shouldn’t eat food at their place. Ultimately, the couple was forced to remove the lights to prevent matters from escalating.
In the complaint, Vishwa Bhanu writes:
Like every year, my wife Priyanka Sharma has been prevented from lighting candles and making her Rangoli on Diwali. Anti-social elements who live in the society, where Rehan Petiwala, Salim and Mustafa broke the lights. Every year they do this and even mock our God’s and Goddesses. On Bakra Eid, they force us to keep our door open and they slaughter goats in front of our house when they can do this elsewhere also. But I never said anything because it is their festival. Because we are Hindus, we are mocked, pressurised and a situation is being created that we will soon leave the area. For small things, they come to fight with us. I am mostly away for shooting and am concerned about my wife.
A similar incident occurred last year as well. They had made a Rangoli but people in the neighbourhood would ruin it with their legs and bursting crackers on them. Not just Diwali, during Holi as well, they can’t celebrate the festival properly. The same is the case for Dussehra and Shivratri. Bhanu told OpIndia that they always compromise with their neighbours during their festivals such as Eid but the same isn’t reciprocated during Hindu festivals.
The Muslims in the locality celebrate their own festivals with much pomp and show but do not permit them to celebrate their own. DJs are played with loud music, the houses are lit up but when it comes to them celebrating Hindu festivals, people in the locality do not tolerate the festivities.
We were also told that he is being indirectly threatened over the incident. Veiled threats are being issued about physical harm. He also alleged that he is being pressurized to sell his home at a rate below the market price of the plot but he is resisting it as of now. He said the situation feels a lot like Kashmir, it was something he had only heard about but now, he was experiencing it.
There have been other occasions as well when people have misbehaved with him. One such incident involved him parking a bike in the area near his house where his neighbours didn’t like it. He had parked it there due to his injured leg. A crowd soon created a commotion and he said that there was no need for such a commotion and he would have moved the bike if they had asked politely as well. He told us that normally, people do park bikes there and sometimes, even goats and other things.
Bhanu also told us that he was irreligious earlier and did not care much about religious rituals. But his wife is religious and it pains him to see that when his wife tries to celebrate some festival, she has to endure such harassment from people in the neighbourhood. He told us that he is suffering a lot.
Update: OpIndia tried to reach out to Mumbai police but has been unsuccessful in its attempts. After the unsuccessful attempt, we spoke to Vishwa Bhanu again to understand whether the police had investigated the case. Bhanu said that the police had reached the spot but tried to downplay the incident and calm the situation down. Bhanu was still at the police station and claimed that even at the police station, he was being threatened by the same neighbours that he will be taught a lesson in the future. Bhanu also claimed that even after he had filed the initial report, he was given veiled threats.
At the police station, Bhanu, the Muslim neighbours who he had accused and the building secretary was present. The building secretary too downplayed the issue and said it was an argument because the neighbours thought that the children would get an electric shock from the Diwali lights. Bhanu later added that the building secretary is a gentle soul who is downplaying the incident to calm tempers down. He also said that was being asked to delete his Facebook post so the issue can be resolved and ended. The conversation ended with Bhanu saying that there is an ‘issue of security’ too so he will probably delete the Facebook post. Bhanu also added that he is staying there out of compulsion.