Opinion: From the starry sky to the plot of Umesh Pal’s murder… Muslim hostel was not like this 27 years back

Prayagraj: The Muslim Hostel of Allahabad University is in discussion these days. The strings of the conspiracy to murder Umesh Pal, the main witness of the Raju Pal murder in broad daylight, have been told here. Prayagraj Police Commissioner told that the conspiracy of this murder was hatched in the room of Sadaqat Khan, who lives in a Muslim hostel. I remember the year 1996 when I was a BSC third year student at Allahabad University. A classmate in our section was from this hostel.

I was not interested in anything other than classes, library, stadium in free time and later my room. Two years passed like this. In the third year, during an intellectual debate on some issue, there was a conversation with a classmate living in a Muslim hostel. The Muslim Hostel was adjacent to the Science Faculty.

In the summer of 1996, such a cyclone came which affected Allahabad as well. Winds were blowing at a speed of about 120 kilometers per hour. The next day it was found that huge trees were uprooted all over the city, let alone electric poles. The boys remember that the huge tree that used to give shade to the lovers outside the WH (women’s hostel) also fell upside down.

Final year exams were on the head. It was the month of May, perhaps only those living in Allahabad can understand the heat of Allahabad. Due to storm damage, power could not be restored for 15 days. In such a situation, on the insistence of that classmate of the Muslim hostel, it was decided that I would come to the hostel to sleep at night and have one meal at a time. I will have breakfast and study in my room only.

The room was also just barely two hundred meters away. I was a vegetarian, I didn’t expect vegetarian food in a Muslim hostel (also called Muslim boarding or Muslim boarding house). But fortunately, my classmate was the mess manager at that time, so nanua, bottle gourd or potato became a vegetable for me. We used to sit together and eat in the mess. Then looking at the stars on the roof of the hostel, there would be some talk of ghosts and ghosts, everyone would fall asleep. I would wake up at 4 in the morning, take a bath at the hostel handpump, then go to my room, prepare for the exam. Would return again in the evening.

I have been in the acquaintance of Muslim families since childhood. But after living like this in a Muslim hostel, some strange things came to know. There, whenever the senior most students met, they used to greet me before saying Namaste. I would have shied One day a friend told that in Islam the one who salutes first gets Sabab or virtue. There were many boys there. Most of them came from poor Muslim families, whose aim was to go to Allahabad and get a government job by preparing for competitive exams.

Once there was a match between India and Pakistan. Went to the common hall for the first time with a friend. Saw there were two benches lying in one corner, on which two-three people were sitting. The rest of the hall is packed and is abusing him. Later it came to know that those two-three people used to support Pakistan, that is why they used to abuse throughout the year. Gradually other friends started going to Muslim hostels with me. All of them were non-Muslims. Then, in a few days, the situation became such that Hindu boys used to organize Iftar parties during Ramzan fast and during Navratras, even boys from Muslim hostels went to visit Mata.

All this took about 27 years… a gap of a whole generation. During this neither went to Allahabad nor got any news of the search of Muslim hostel. Suddenly, when UP ATS raided in Umesh Pal murder, a question arose in the mind, has the Muslim hostel changed so much in 27 years?

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