Children can be cruel. And they do pick up from adults words, mannerisms, behaviour and even hate. Children in 1983-84 would tease Sikh students by calling them ‘Khalistani’ or Bhindrawale. They forced hundreds of Sikh children to insist that they should be allowed to cut off their hair and discard the turban before attending classes.
For decades, children are known to have told their ‘ Muslim’ playmates in school that Muslims were like the red ants and the Hindus black. Housing societies are known to have refused to accept Muslims as tenants. In several parts of Gujarat, there is an unofficial ban on sale of houses and property to Muslims. The right-wing trolls have been busy calling for a boycott of everything ‘Muslim’ and exhorting friends and followers to stop buying stuff from Muslims.
Some even called upon fellow Indians to stop visiting Kashmir and stop buying apples, handicrafts, carpets etc from the state by way of punishing Kashmiri Muslims---not realising that India is hopelessly dependent on Muslim countries for its energy needs.
It was not surprising in this environment to find some children in a Mumbai Housing Society tell a Muslim girl of their own age that they would not play with her as she belonged to a different faith, reported Mumbai Mirror.
What, however, has come as a surprise is the reaction of other members of the society, especially the women. Once the mother of the child shared her traumatic experience on the society’s WhatsApp Group, other rallied round her and declared that they would not allow such behaviour in the society.
The children were called and counselled and it was explained why they should have respect for fellow human beings and why they should respect all faiths. The message of unity in diversity, of communal amity and harmony , reported in Mumbai Mirror, has gone viral on social media, where the inspiring report is being shared by netizens.
In such hateful, dark times, the women of a housing society prove to be a sliver of hope as they condition the society’s people to be more inclusive and accepting. Following an incident, the society holds events to sensitise children about other faiths and acceptance.
The whole society, led by women of the society, came to the rescue of a crying girl, after the kids refused to play with her due to her being Muslim.
Some women of the housing society called on the mother of the child, following which they went to meet the parents of the children who had refused to play with the girl and who had used hurtful language.
The children’s parents were apparently equally shocked and believed that they might have picked up the sentiment from strangers or people outside. The children were then counselled and directed to revere everyone, regardless of faith.
The women of this society have now decided to regularly hold meetings and events to sensitise other children to ensure that the incident is not repeated. They decided to instil inclusive, unifying values in their children, and celebrate festivals and diversity together.
The girl’s mother told Mumbai Mirror that the society’s steadfast support and the sensitisation meetings made her feel that her children were “growing up in the right atmosphere”. “The children are back to playing together. There is no animosity whatsoever,” she said to Mumbai Mirror.
“Our society welcomes all and that’s how it will remain. The only thing that is not welcome here is bigotry,” said Garima Shrivastava to Mumbai Mirror, a Royal Oasis resident.