Hyderabad: Hindu migrant workers opt for Muslim names for ‘safety’

Their apprehension comes from a perceived fear that the anti-Muslim violence back in their home states will become a social burden on them.

Hyderabad: In the labyrinth like lanes of the Old City, Manoj (27), a native of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh moves, around selling pani puri on an old pushcart every evening. His business continues till late nights and the man mainly goes around Muslim dominated areas of GM Chawni, Al Jubail colony, Phoolbagh and nearby places in Chandrayangutta. 

Ask him his name, and he will introduce himself to you as “Rashid”. Ask him why he hides his real identity; he replies “Kya kareh, darr lagta hain, koi pakad kar peet na deh. Hamare yaha thoda gadbadh chalta hain na Musalman ko lekar, (What to do? I am scared that someone will beat me up. Back home there are issues pertaining to Muslims)” he says with a sense of fear.  

 Manoj migrated to Hyderabad six years ago and since then he has been selling pani puri in the older areas of the city. “I stay at Sultan Shahi along with my friends who are from UP while our families stay in our hometown and we send them money every month,” he says. 

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Scores like Manoj migrate to the different cities across India every day in search of decent livelihood means and do odd jobs. A lot of them land in Hyderabad too, and are settled in Sultan Shahi, Nashemannagar, Bhavaninagar and other areas in the south of the city.

“Our priority is to earn and sustain. We are away from all politics, hatred and violence. Some people in our native states are doing nonsense which does not benefit anyone. See because of them we stay in fear elsewhere, they should understand repercussions of their acts,” said Rakesh, who sells ice cream at Hafeezbabanagar road till late at night. For most however, he goes by the name.

Both the migrants are facing the repurcussions of anti-muslim violebce and hate speeches that are a common recurrence back home. More recently, the violence following Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanthi thar has gripped states like Madhrya Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Gujarat and other places has instilled a fear among non-Muslim migrants who work in the Muslim dominant areas, even though there is no such cause for worry.

Their pprehension comes from a perceived fear in Hyderabad, where they feel that the anti-Muslim violence back in their home states will become a social burden on them. (It may be be however noted that Karnataka, a state in the south, has now become the new communal ground in India off-late).

His colleague Ram adds due to the recent instances of communal disturbances in India, his family warned him to be careful. ” Wven our elders staying here ask us not to hang around till late nights on roads. We do not tie any lemon or mirchi to the cart, nor do we wear a thread in our hands or apply tilak for fear of being identified. Basically avoid things that help anyone identify our religion, these are just precautions,” he said. 

Hyderabad is no less than Dubai for the people in UP, Bihar, MP and Jharkhand. “There are several rags to riches stories. People came empty handed to the city and returned with bags full of money in a short period. Lot of job opportunities, low rents and cheap food are advantages. Moreover there is peace here,” says Babuloo, a native of Varanasi. 

According to them, there is a lot of poverty in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar because of which they come here to take up odd jobs and sustain. “Basically many are craftsmen engaged in vocations like hand embroidery, saree printing, chappal making etc. Because of COVID-19 the industry is down so we took up small jobs and earn about Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000 a month,” said Ajay, a native of Ghaziabad. 

After the COVID-19 pandemic, many landed in financial distress, and after the lockdowns were lifted, new communal disturbances in other states amidst rising inflation is another big point of worry for them. “Kitna bhi kamao, kamhi padtha hain,” says Ajay. 

If the atmosphere of hate continues then many feel they might have to return back to their hometowns for their families are in constant fear. “Roz phone lagateh hai family, ek dar hogaya hain,” says a friend of Ajay who did not want to reveal his identity.

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