Every Indian Must Follow What Asansol Imam Has Done

First and foremost, let me begin at the very beginning by taking this opportunity to salute the Imam of Asansol – Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi. What he has done is not everyone’s cup of tea. It takes great guts, great dynamism and unflinching faith in humanity and unity of all religions to do what Imam Mohammad Imdadullah has done. Even I myself cannot even dream to do what he has done in reality. Not just every Indian but even I would say every good human being in each and every hook and corner of the world must vow to follow what the Asansol Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi has done so voluntarily even after losing his young son in a communal violence!

                                         It is a national tragedy that such a supreme and biggest voluntary act which is even bigger than fighting terrorists on the border still goes unrecognized in India! It is a national shame that in TV news channels we keep hearing communal speeches of those who worship hatred yet never get a chance to see the likes of Asansol Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi! Every Indian in fact every good human being in any part of the world must bow his head in front of the Asansol Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi because he has done what I even myself think is next to impossible to do!

                                          After losing his 16-year-old son in recent communal clashes in Asansol, the Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi said that he will not name anyone as a suspect in the case as he did not want an innocent person to face any trouble. Rashidi said that let the police investigate and find out who is guilty. None other than the West Bengal State BJP President Dilip Ghosh said on April 1, 2018 that Mohammad Imdadullah’s “actions are praiseworthy.” Dilip Ghosh also rightly said that, “He has set an example by calming down the crowd and controlling emotions. Even after the death of his son he ensured that the situation did not go out of control.”

                                  Even a senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) official said on condition of anonymity that, “If he has said such things to the crowd then it is a commendable act. We support anyone who takes a positive stand on the basis of principles and not religious divide.” Eminent Bengali writer Joya Mitra who is a resident of Asansol too said that the situation would have been worse if the Imam had not reacted fast standing in front of his dead son’s body! All the Imams in India especially in Jammu and Kashmir which is most notorious for street violence breaking out after listening to the provocative speeches of one Imam or the other every now and then must wake up their ideas and try to imbibe what the Imam of Asansol – Mohammad Imdadullah has done so under such trying circumstances!

                                To be sure, a video circulating on a message application shows a crowd of men in white caps, carrying a coffin, covered with a red cloth. Imam’s 16-year-old son, Mohammed Sibghatullah whose school leaving examination just got over was lying inside the coffin. He was lynched on Wednesday in the last week of March when he and his elder brother had gone to the nearby OK Road mosque, about 500 metres south of the Noorani mosque. They had no inkling that the violence would break out so suddenly!

                                    Briefly stated, there was tension in the area over an “offensive song” being played from a Ram Navami rally and within hours clashes erupted. In the song, which “The Hindu” newspaper has a recording of, it was clearly said that, “Topiwale bhi sar jhukake Jai Sri Ram bolega…” [Men in caps will soon lower head to say Jai Sri Ram]. This is most reprehensible! The repeated playing of the song in an area with mixed population  rightly annoyed the Muslims, leading to clashes and altercation.

                                    What followed next was even more reprehensible! Mohammad Imdadullah who is the Imam of Noorani mosque on the northern edge of the city who lost his young son said in a choked voice that, “Sibgatullah along with his brother went near the mosque to see what the commotion was about and was caught by the mob. His body was found late on Wednesday.” Only a father who has lost his young son can understand best what it means to lose a loving and caring son who was his ray of hope for the future and that too most despicably in an act of communal violence!

                                      Truth be told, what followed  next was that following the  incident, on Thursday afternoon, as the Janaza Namaz or the funeral prayer began the crowd, which was estimated at 10,000 by the police, was seemingly turning restive. Realising that the situation was fast slipping out of control, Imam Mohammad Imdadullah asked for a microphone, which he usually never uses to deliver a sermon. He said most emotionally that, “If you love me then don’t indulge in any violence and let peace prevail. I don’t want any more lives to be lost. If you resort to any violence then I will leave the mosque and the city.” Every Indian and every true human being must try to emulate him and bow his/her head in front of him!

                                          As the journalists of “The Hindu” newspaper on March 31 reached the Noorani mosque to meet Imam Imdadullah, he with a broken heart still controlled his emotions and met them. He explained why he had to calm the crowd down which wanted revenge from Hindus. He said that, “I don’t have words to express my feelings after having lost my younger son…” He further added that, “But I also didn’t want any further violence to take away anyone’s loved ones…I realized that violence was imminent, so I had to speak up”.

                                             It needs no Albert Einstein to conclude that had the Imam of Noorani mosque in Asansol – Mohammed Imdadullah not appealed for peace and not calmed down the “enraged crowd”, scores of people would have been killed and scores of temples would have been burnt down!  Not just this, he asked members of his community to ensure that the shops and properties belonging to the handful of Hindu families residing in the area were not damaged or destroyed in any manner. This ensured that not a single shop or house or any temple of Hindus in the locality was attacked by the “enraged crowd” whom the Imam pacified!

                                                It is the biggest misfortune of India that when such supreme act of valour is displayed not in films but in reality where a father whose young son is killed by members from other religion by being lynched and those belonging to religion of the father want to take revenge, the father threatens that if this happens he would leave the locality as he wanted no revenge and he would be most pained by it yet Centre and State care a damn in recognizing it publicly! If he does not deserve Bharat Ratna then this award itself should be disbanded and so should all other awards that are given for promoting communal harmony! Every good human being and every Indian must learn something from what this Imam of Noorani mosque of Asansol – Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi has done in reality what we don’t see even in films!

                                             In conclusion, there can be no hatred, no riots and no killings in any place and in any part of the country if every Indian and every human being behaves the way this great Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi has behaved in real life and that too after his younger son being lynched by members of the other community! Even Nobel Prize if not given to him should be disbanded! How many of us can control our anger if we see our near and dear ones being lynched and public ready to go on the rampage on our calling?

                                              There can be no gainsaying the irrefutable truth that we all must always follow not just try to follow the great footsteps of this great Imam who is a symbol of national as well as international pride for humanity but also always remember his supreme act of compassion till we die which I rate is much bigger than for what Malala Yousufzai of Pakistan got Nobel Peace Prize for! He has vindicated what Dean Swift had once famously said that, “We have just enough religion to make us hate one another but not enough to make us love one another”!

                                              Before winding up, let me be direct in asking: Why can’t we all be more tolerant, be more compassionate and be more accommodative like Imam Rashidi? Why can’t we live in peace and harmony? Why do we start killing each other on the slightest of misunderstanding? Why do we not forgive and forget?

                                            It is solely because the likes of this great Imam Mohammad Imdadullah Rashidi are ignored and their acts don’t get enough media coverage nor any recognition from the government of India or the state from which he/she hailed that people don’t understand how to lead a good life and how to behave like a good human being! No doubt, there are many more like him who believe firmly in peace, love and brotherhood but they too are ignored for reasons known best to our politicians and journalists! This is just not done. They certainly deserve recognition which they must be given as early as possible!        

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh