Madhulika Rajput from Karauli town, Rajasthan stood up to angry mobs, refusing to give up Muslims who had taken shelter in a shopping complex.
On April 2 Karauli Town in Rajasthan faced the largest communal riot in decades, which left 35 injured. It started with a bike rally to celebrate Hindu New Year, which played communally charged songs as it passed through the Muslim populated area of Atwara. Allegedly stone slabs were dropped down on the procession from Muslim households. And this resulted in an uproar in the Hindu community.
Madhulika Rajput and her family own several shops in a market complex in Karauli town. On this day, Madhulika was faced with an angry mob outside the market complex. These were the Hindu Mob who were in the riot. They demanded an inspection inside the market complex to see if there are “other men who may be hiding”.
“I told them I would not let anyone inside,” 48-year-old Rajput recounted. “They asked if anyone was hiding, but I said no one was here. I did not want the riot to spread further. No one can say anything to me here. No one can force me to do anything I do not want.”
What Rajput did not tell the mob at the gates was that about 15 Muslim shop owners and workers had gathered on the first floor of the complex. They were terrified and coughing as smoke from the neighbouring buildings seeped in. “I moved them to a safer room,” she said. “I put on the fan, gave them water and told them they could stay there as long as needed.”
Danish Khan and Mohammaddin Khan are two men who were among the people who took shelter in the marketing complex. They said in an interview that they were running in fear and met Madhulika Rajput. She told them to come to take shelter on the first floor of the building since it is not safe out there. Danish says that he did not expect this kind of kindness in the middle of such an event.
The mob which attacked the shopping complex was violent. They were trying to open the gates by force and threatened that they would burn down the shops owned by Muslims. But Madhulika was not scared. She screamed at them and told them she would not let them destroy the shops. Some of the men who took shelter were even strangers to Madhulika, yet she fearlessly fought for them. The Muslim men were touched by her kindness and impressed by her fierceness.
When the mob was cleared, and peace finally fell upon the town, the Muslim men finally were able to go home. As for Madhuika Rajput, she stands by her decision to protect them even after hearing stories of Muslims hurling stones at the Hindu rally. “See, these boys had nothing to do with what had happened with the procession,” she said. “They tried to leave but were met by mobs. I did not want them to be hurt or blood to be spilt. I could not have that on my conscience.”
It was, she said, a question of ‘insaniyat’, humanity.