KOLKATA: In an unprecedented gesture, an imam of a mosque in West Bengal’s Asansol on Thursday at religious congregation appealed Muslims for peace and harmony by urging them not to retaliate his son’s murder.
Imam Maulana Imdadul Rashidi even threatened to leave the mosque and town if Muslims did not pay heed to his appeal, The Indian Express reported.
The Imam made thousands of people gathered at the Eidgah Maidan cry because of his passionate speech made soon after the burial of his son, Sibtullah Rashidi.
“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,” said Rashidi, Imam of Noorani Mosque in Chetladanga Nadi Par.
“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,” said a father who has just lost his son.
It is suspected that the 16-year-old Sibtulla, who appeared for his Class X board exams this year, went missing after communal clashes in Asansol’s Rail Par area on Tuesday afternoon.
According to sources, he was allegedly kidnapped and beaten to death by Hindutva goons. His body was recovered late on Wednesday night and identified on Thursday. He is suspected to have been beaten to death.
The selfless deed of the imam made at the time of crisis and personal grief is being applauded and hailed from various sections.
Mayor of Asansol Jitendra Tiwari said, “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.”
“This is an example, not only for Bengal but for the entire country,” Mohammed Nasim Ansari, councillor of Ward 25 in Asansol said.
“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.”
The Ram Navami celebrations, on March 25, had turned sour after clashes erupted in various parts of West Bengal leaving one dead and several injured.