NEW DELHI: The bookshops in the Muslim-dominated city of Bombay were a common sight for a few decades from the early 1950s, with Muslim men and women alike selling books and magazines, books, magazines, and newspapers.
But the Muslim community did not enjoy such a privileged position.
And it was not until the 1970s, after the arrival of a new generation of Muslim immigrants, that the shops began to reopen.
In this book, a Pakistani immigrant and his wife share their recollections of the bookshopping experience in the Indian city.
The bookshop at the corner of the Peddicam and Charing Cross was one of the first in the city, with men selling everything from Indian classical literature to the Koran.
It had two floors and was known for its quality.
But by the time of the 1971 war with Pakistan, the shop had closed, and the men who worked there started selling books from their home in the suburbs.
Soon after, the Muslim communities of Bombay and the surrounding suburbs were rocked by riots, the result of which left many shops empty and many of their owners dead.
The loss of the shops triggered a wave of community unrest.
The police raided the shops and killed several men.
The shops were also looted.
The rioters’ aim was to destroy the community’s books and literature and to destroy their social standing.
Some of the shopkeepers were killed, and their bodies were buried in mass graves.
The mob also damaged the shops with bricks and stones.
Many of the men were sentenced to death by firing squad.
Some were beaten up.
One shopkeeper was executed.
The riots also left many Muslim families living in poverty.
But in a few years, the shops had started opening again.
And in the next few years the shops were reopening.
A bookshop in Bombay.
Source: The Times Of IndiaNow, many of these books are now available to visitors and are also sold in bookshoots across India.
The owners of these shops are now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.
But the shops still hold a special place in their lives.
Many of the customers are their grandchildren.
They all say that when they came to Mumbai to work in the book industry in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the bookshop did not exist.
So they sold books to each other and took their children for shopping trips.
The book shops were in the heart of the Muslim population.
“I came to Bombay when I was 14 and worked in a book shop.
We had about 30 customers and we sold books and newspapers,” said Abdul Hameed, a man in his 50s who is still working at a bookshooting shop.
The shopkeeper said that when the war started, he and his family were on the streets.
But they were welcomed by the people who welcomed them.
When the war ended, the warring sides agreed to settle the war debts and the shops opened.
Today, the owners of the stores still have a lot of pride in their past.
“The books we sold then are still there.
The books we sell now are more popular than the ones we sold in the war,” he said.
“In the war, we had to sell books and we did so with the support of our Muslim community.
Today we still sell books to our customers.
We hope to bring books to the market in the future.”