Kolkata: In a rarely seen example, Imam of a mosque whose 16-year-old son was beaten to death during the riots in Asansol, West Bengal, on Thursday presided over a congregation where he threatened to leave the mosque and the town if there was any retaliation for his son’s death.
Sibtulla Rashidi, who appeared for his Class X board exams this year, was missing after communal clashes in Rail Par area of Asansol on Tuesday afternoon. According to sources, he was picked up by a mob. His body was recovered late on Wednesday night and identified on Thursday. He is suspected to have been beaten to death.
As thousands of people gathered at the Eidgah Maidan in the afternoon, after Sibtulla was buried, Imam of Noorani Mosque in Chetladanga Nadi Par Imdadul Rashidi appealed for peace. “I want peace. My boy has been taken away. I don’t want any more families to lose their loved ones. I don’t want any more houses to burn. I have already told the gathering that I will leave Asansol if there is any kind of retaliation. I told them that if you love me, you will not raise a finger,” Rashidi is quoted as saying by The Indian Exoress.
“I have been an Imam for the last 30 years. It is important that I give the right message to the people — a message of peace. I need to get over my personal loss. People of Asansol are not like this. This is a conspiracy,” he said.
The unprecedented gesture by the Imam made at the time of crisis and personal grief is being applauded and hailed from 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.
The Ram Navami celebrations on March 25 had turned sour after clashes erupted in various parts of West Bengal leaving three dead and several injured. BJP MP and Union Minister Babul Supriyo tried to enter the trouble hit area but he was stopped. After being prevented from visiting the violence-hit areas, Babul Supriyo assaulted IPS officer Rupesh Kumar. A case was later filed against him.
It is accused that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and right wing Hindu extremist leaders are deliberately sparking communal tension in West Bengal for political mileage and communal polarization as they had done in other areas of the country in the past. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has however asserted that such behavior was unacceptable in her state and that her government would strongly deal with each miscreant.
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