It all started as a discussion around a parking issue between individuals from the Hindu and the Muslim community, but conflict soon escalated. As a result, vandals attacked Lal Kuan temple in Delhi, India on 30 June 2019, damaging idols and heightening tensions between both groups. While many community members sought revenge, KAICIID Fellow Kenu Agarwal and other members of her organization led a peaceful response to the situation.
Despite not being a member of that community and despite being discouraged to enter the area due to security reasons, Agarwal, President of Sanskar Bharti Chandni Chowk, an organization working on the promotion of Indian culture, art and literature, decided to step in. In cooperation with other partners, she organized prayers with the Hindu community in front of the temple – an action which became the turning point to bring peace to the area.
“Although many Hindus were angry, we made it a point to keep them at peace. We just had to stop them from going violent. We invited Hindus from all over Delhi and people kept coming and going throughout the day. When Hindus saw the support from religious leaders, they became very happy and refrained from violence. When both communities saw people praying on the road, particularly women in their traditional dresses, they could not do anything wrong,” Agarwal recalls.
After praying in front of the temple for three consecutive days, police and members of Parliament promised to identify the vandals and committed to bringing the temple back to its original form.
In an area mostly populated by Muslims, many Hindus were scared of participating in the prayers and the procession that followed on the third day. “I was the first women to interact with a Muslim male. He gave me sweets and a garland. This is what KAICIID has given me: the power to interact fearlessly with other communities,” Agarwal said.
The Hindu community’s peaceful response to vandalism resulted in interreligious fruits. Muslims came forward to bring them food, water and flowers, and stood together with them in peace. With the cooperation of members of both religious communities, after almost one week of tensions, the temple was repaired and the idols were reinstalled.