Our children are hungry, we have graver concerns than a temple-mosque controversy: Women of Varanasi People of Varanasi want administration to focus on peace, economic revival, employment and progress

24, May 2022 | Fazalur Rehman Ansari

While Varanasi remains the subject of various ‘news debates’, as the Gyanvapi Mosque issue dominates the daily headlines, the ordinary citizen wants the administration to get its priorities right. During peacekeeping meetings, led by activists and citizens groups, it has emerged that in the gullies and mohallas of the ancient city, all that the people want is peace, so that their more pressing daily concerns are addressed by the authorities.

At a recent meeting, attended mostly by local women hailing from different faiths, held under the shade of the tree Kohna Mohalla at Raj Ghat, as they do on some cooler days, the women, many of them home makers and young mothers, shared with anguish heart-rending tales of coping with the cries of hungry children, rising expenses and unemployment.

CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program is a unique initiative aiming to give voice and agency to the young, from among the communities with whom we work closely. These presently include migrant workers, Dalits, Adivasis and forest workers. CJP Fellows report on issues closest to their hearts and home, and are making impactful change every day. We hope to expand this to include far reaching ethnicities, diverse genders, Muslim artisans, sanitation workers and manual scavengers. Our raison d’etre is to dot India’s vast landscape with the committed human rights workers who carry in their hearts, Constitutional values, to transform India into what our nation’s founders dreamt it to be. Please Donate Now to increase the band of CJP Grassroot Fellows.

“We see the hunger that makes our children cry themselves to sleep,” said Malati Devi. Rashida, a homemaker, says husband works day and night due to this inflation. “Yet our family is not able to thrive, I can’t run my home properly. I also have to work as a helper in people’s homes,” she says. Now, her husband, a daily-wage worker is struggling to find work, and he is not alone.

According to boatman Govind Lal Sahni, his community is suffering as the authorities are preventing them from plying their boats citing “new laws for the Ganga.” He claims boats owned and run by “big companies are allowed in the Ganga.” Sahni says the community is “facing a grave crisis and loss of livelihood but the government is not paying attention to it, and just talking about the temple mosque.”

The women and men of Varanasi say that the “politicians are just working to make Hindus and Muslims fight among themselves.”

Sunita Rawat, a resident of the mohalla or locality said she fears the loss of her childhood home. “The Varanasi district administration is repeatedly threatening us, and telling us to move out of here. They will snatch our homes from us, even though we have proof such as Aadhaar cards, ration and identity cards. But no one is listening to us,” she laments.

There are about 100 families here in this colony, both Hindus and Muslims. They fear that the administration wants to uproot them, while all attention is on the Mosque-Temple issue. “Hindus and Muslims have always lived together in Banaras. We have no enmity with either the temple or the mosque. We really do not care about these issues,” say the locals in one voice, adding, “We have to think about our survival, how to avoid being uprooted and destroyed, not about temples or mosques”.

The locals said their top concern is the loss of livelihood and how to survive inflation, “We are almost starving. The temple-mosque game is played by political people, we will not spoil our brotherhood by falling into this trap.”

A video of the meeting may be viewed here:

Meet Fazalur Rehman Ansari

Fazlur Rehman Grassroots Fellow

A weaver and a social worker, Fazlur Rehman Ansari hails from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Over the years, he has been raising issues concerning the weavers’ community. He has led the community in demanding their human rights, as citizens, and skilled craftspersons who keep the handicraft and heritage of the region alive.


We, the citizens of Varanasi

Hands that weave heritage Banarasis, are now reaching out for help! 


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go to Top
Nafrat Ka Naqsha 2023