Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
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Overlap Political

Split Wide Open: Old Scars, Fresh Wounds Put Udaipur On The Edge

The City of Lakes is bristling with anger. Communal faultlines buried deep in the past have cracked open in Udaipur after the killing of Kanhaiya Lal.

Family in mourning: The widow and sons of slain Kanhaiya Lal
Family in mourning: The widow and sons of slain Kanhaiya Lal Photo: Tribhuvan Tiwari

The faint twangs of a rusty morchang—a Rajasthani folk musical instrument—breaks the uneasy silence that hangs like miasma over the still waters of Lake Pichola in Udaipur. The chaotic strains come from a wandering musician, invisible in the moonless night. The dismembered twanging creeps up the steep alleys to reach the old gate of Chand Pole that leads to the Old City of Udai Singh II, in search of cracks and crevices in doors and windows. But those who live in the maze of these once-royal lanes are not in the mood for music tonight. Not many hours ago, volleys of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ had rung out in these streets when thousands of indignant bodies meshed into each other to form an enormous monolith dyed in countless shades of saffron. And the monolith is demanding justice. Justice for Kanhaiya Lal.

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Udaipur. The ever-smiling host to lakhs of tourists who visit the Rajasthan city awash in history and hedonistic heroism. It is also a historical example of the state’s distinct brand of secularism and pan-­culturism where Hindus and Muslims have danced the centuries-long waltz of coexistence, twirling and bowing between battle and peace. But today, the City of Lakes is bristling with anger. Communal faultlines buried deep in the past have cracked open, and Udaipur finds itself on edge of an abyss of hate.

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