[A little Muslim boy looks on as the devout offer Eid prayers at Red Road, Kolkata (File photo)]
Kolkata: In a strong show of Hindu-Muslim camaraderie, over 3,000 Muslims gathered at Shamsherganj Eidgah in West Bengal's Murshidabad district for Eid prayers donated Rs 49,000 to help six Hindu families rebuild their houses damaged in a fire.
The gesture was prompted after the local Eidgah Committee Secretary Lutful Haque urged the Muslims to donate money during the Eid prayers on Saturday. Soon, the Muslim worshippers donated whatever money they had with them.
"A sum of Rs 49,000 was immediately collected in response to the appeal", The New Indian Express said in a report.
Some 26 people of the six Hindu families became homeless and presently staying in tents at a child welfare centre after the fire was started at the residence of Phulkumari Bhaskar last Thursday from burning firewood and soon spread to the other houses of the neighbourhood.
"I was at a grocery shop near my residence with my nine-year-old daughter when the fire started. Upon return, I found my house on the flames. However, I alerted other villagers and nobody was hurt," she said.
The victims said that the gesture extended by their Muslim neighbours cemented the centuries-old camaraderie between the two communities. Work on rebuilding the houses is expected to commence soon.
In a similar gesture of Hindu-Muslim unity, a Muslim software engineer donated the Rs 3 lakh after he came to know that the villagers in Khasmora, near Domjur in West Bengal are struggling to build a temple.
Saidul Sheik a software engineer had returned to India on Eid break after working in Kuwait and Australia. Though Sheikh had never visited the village in question, he met one of the residents at an eatery near his home. They started chatting, and in course of the conversation, Sheikh came to know how the villagers were struggling to put together funds to build the temple. He decided he wanted to help, according to a report on Anandabzar Patrika published on June 12, 2018.
Hindus and Muslims by and large live peacefully in West Bengal, though efforts are always underway to incite communal flare up in the state. In March this year, there were communal clashes in Asansol district of the state. Among others, 16-year-old son of Imam of Noorani Mosque in Chetladanga Nadi Par Imdadul Rashidi was also brutally murderes in the riot.
Any retaliation after the brutal murder of the Imam's son would have led to more violence. However, the Imam himself led with an example. After leading the funeral prayers of his young son, the Imam threatened to leave the mosque and the town if there was any retaliation for his son’s death.
The unprecedented gesture by the Imam made at the time of crisis and personal grief was applauded and hailed by various sections. "The Imam was instrumental in calming the angry youth and cooperated with the administration. We are proud of him. Despite the pain he is suffering following the loss of a son, he appealed for peace,” said Jitendra Tiwari, Mayor of Asansol.
“We did not expect this from a father who has just lost his son. This is an example, not only for Bengal but for the entire country. People started to cry after his speech. I was present there.I was awestruck. There was anger among the youth after the body was found, but the message for peace struck the right chord. He is popular in the area. If he had not appealed for peace, Asansol would have been caught in a fire,” said Mohammed Nasim Ansari, councillor of Ward 25 in Asansol, where the victim’s family lives.
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