ABSTRACT

When I began to ask questions about why people chose to live in Zakir Nagar, I was given a variety of answers ranging from economic motivations to personal and family pulls, as well as the desire to live in a familiar culture or mahol based on a shared religious identity. However, the two most-cited reasons for the development of Zakir Nagar as a Muslim neighbourhood were the desire for a common culture and a religion-based insecurity. Although these reasons were often narrated as being distinct, as I have argued in the previous chapter, a growing sense of insecurity as members of a Muslim minority in India was deeply intertwined with the construction of corporate religion-based identities, both at the national level and that of the locality. I was struck by this pervasive sense of fear expressed despite the fact that Delhi had itself not experienced large-scale riots since Partition. e periodic eruptions of violence in other parts of India and against other religious minorities, from Partition till the present, were cited as contributing to this sense of fear amongst residents of the locality. e way people described the development of their neighbourhood speaks to the complex relationship between history, memory and the locality, and the continuing reverberations of violent events in places, such as Zakir Nagar, that may be distantly located from the actual sites of hostility both geographically and temporally.