Bengal Imam who lost son to communal clashes calls for peace / Students Across India Rise Up To Protest Citizenship Act And Police Brutality

First posted December 15, 2019

His appeal to the protesters not to cause discomfort to ordinary people or harm public or private properties has been circulating on social media since Sunday morning.

NB: This gentleman deserves our respect, gratitude and admiration. I would like to salute him and ask that we all learn from him. His appeal would have touched Gandhi, who spent much time in Bengal in 1946-47. The situation in the country is serious, and it is a pity that a popularly elected government is bent upon sowing discord amongst Indians.

Here is a piece of wisdom from the Bhagwadgita for the Modi government:

Kuryad vidvams tatha saktas cikirsur lokasamgraham (Bhagwadgita III 25)

The disinterestedly wise ought to desire the holding together of all being

Mass satyagraha is called for, but it must be completely non-violent, and respectful of the needs of common citizens. The illegal and dangerous implications of the CAB must be patiently explained to people via pamphlets. And a solidarity network needs to be built across India and the world to defend democracy, and protect human rights from all kinds of fanaticism, be it of any religious or political colour. Truth and ahimsa are the compass left to us by the Mahatma. Let us abide by his message. DS

Maulana Imdadul Rashidi, the Imam from Asansol in West Bengal who thwarted escalation of riots in the wake of his son’s death during 2018 communal clashes in the Paschim Bardhaman city, has once again appealed for peace, terming the ongoing violence during protests against NRC and new citizenship law “wrong and unacceptable.” His appeal to the protesters not to cause discomfort to ordinary people or harm public or private properties has been circulating on social media since Sunday morning. “Protests should not cause ordinary people discomfort, harm anyone, any community, caste or religion and damage government or private properties. What a section of people are doing is wrong and unacceptable. I appeal for peace and restraint,” Imam Rashidi told The Express over the phone from Asansol.

The Imam, who lost his 16-year-old son to communal clashes following Ram Navami processions in Asansol in March, 2018, agreed that the proposed NRC and Citizenship Act are putting lakhs of people in trouble. “People are scared. One should protest according to law. Everyone should exercise his or her democratic right to protest, but in a peaceful manner,” Rashidi added.

“Government should help people, not trouble them. In Assam, so much money had been spent and so many people detained. Then the (Central) government is saying they will scrap it and bring a nationwide NRC. Many people do not have proper papers. Where will they go? We have no problem with the new law granting citizenship to all others, but Muslims. But in the long run, it is putting a particular community in a very bad situation. Government should think over this,” said Rashidi, whose appeal in the aftermath of 2018 violence was instrumental in reigning in communal clashes in the region.

On March 30, 2018, hours after his son Sibtulla Rashidi was found dead, becoming the fourth victim of violence triggered by Ram Navami processions across the state, the Maulana presided over a congregation where he appealed for peace. He had told the crowd he would leave the town if there was retaliation. “What better person than the Imam appealing for peace. We recorded his video of the appeal and circulated it in social media. We are hopeful that his message will reach out to the section who are engaged in vandalism of railway stations and public buses,” said Md Jim Nawaz, a social activist who has set up an online platform, and is part of a group holding seminars in districts to tackle NRC rumours.

In 2018, Sibtulla, who appeared for his Class X board exams that year, was reported missing after communal clashes in Rail Par area of Asansol. According to sources, he was picked up by a mob and allegedly beaten to death. His body was recovered later.