In the recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the rate of riots and tensions due to hate crimes (based on religion) in the National capital territory of Delhi and its surrounding towns. However, these are only a symptom of a broader pattern of otherization that is becoming prominent in most Indian cities. Newspapers like “The Hindu” and other media sources report a “flourishing housing apartheid” (Ashok and Ali 2012); neighborhoods are conveniently acknowledged as Muslim Mohollas (Muslim neighborhoods) and Harijan Basti (Dalit Neighborhoods) or as “areas of minority concentration” in certain official documents. However, the processes of their existence are seldom questioned by city planners. In fact, the practice of city planning remains blind to these issues and absolves itself from responsibility.
This paper investigates the entwined histories of the Master plans of Delhi with the patterns of residential segregation of the Muslim community of Delhi. My underlying argument remains that the housing issues of India, like that of the US and South Africa, cannot be investigated precisely without acknowledging its intersectionality with deeper issues of identity, race, sex, class, religion, caste, and numerous other factors. Thus, it is crucial to understand and resolve issues of systemic injustice and social inequity. This paper, however, is limited to the dimensions of religion only.
This paper applies a framework provided by Scott (1999) to examine how each of his four elements (that are requisite for most tragic episodes of state-initiated social engineering) affect the segregated residential patterns of Muslims in Delhi. He maintains that these four elements (discussed in detail later) when combined they may provide a firm basis for the concept of citizenship and “the provision of social welfare” just as they might enforce “a policy of rounding up undesirable minorities.” To simplify and shorten my argument for this paper I have chosen to go back only as far post-colonial Delhi.