After Clashes Disturbed Their Lives, Hindu-Muslim Join Hands to Rebuild Basirhat
The residents of Masjidpara, Wahab and Saha's small grocery shop was vandalised during the clashes on July 5. The two had opened the shop, pooling their savings, but their dream shattered when a mob pillaged their shop.
A burnt motorcycle seen at a road after a communal riot at Baduria, a town in Basirhat sub-division in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. (Photo: Sujit Nath)
Bashirhat (North 24-Parganas): In the riot-hit Basirhat, Sheikh Wahab and Raju Saha finally have a reason to smile. After their shop was vandalised during clashes, a large number of locals came forward with monetary help so that Wahab and Saha could restart their business.
The residents of Masjidpara, Wahab and Saha's small grocery shop was vandalised during the clashes on July 5. The two had opened the shop, pooling their savings, but their dream was shattered when a mob pillaged their shop.
Wahab and Saha studied together at Basirhat High School; in 2016, they decided to open a grocery shop-cum-cyber café.
“For the last one year, we had started doing temporary jobs to save money for this shop. Both of us worked hard and we were happy to open the shop. But the shop was vandalised by the mob,” Raju said.
Wahab and Saha were not the only ones to get help from their neighbours and traders. There were many who came forward to help each other through whatever limited means they had.
At Mayerbazar, near Trimohini crossing, Sambit Pal’s pan shop was torched. He would take food items and other products on credit from the vendor but incurred a huge loss when his shop was set ablaze during a clash.
Babul Tarafdar, the vendor Pal shopped from, asked him to pay just 50% of what Pal owed to him. “I bought goods worth Rs 2000 from him, but he agreed to accept Rs 1000 and that too, after a few days. I thanked him for this fine gesture, and promised to return him the entire money after a few months,” Pal said.
There are innumerable such stories in which the communal differences were overpowered by humanity.
Sheikh Shahnawaz, a businessman having two meat shops in Barasat near Airport, said, “I have meat shops in Barasat, and on weekends, I go to my house in Basirhat. I got depressed when I came to know of clashes between two communities in Bashirhat. There are other traders – originally from Basirhat - doing business in Kolkata and in the surrounding areas. All of us have decided to pool money to help those who lost everything and need money for treatment and education.”
“So far we have distributed close to Rs 25,000 to eight families in Basirhat and Baduria. I am sure in the coming days more people will come forward for this noble cause,” said Shahnawaz.
Darjipara's Rukina Bibi found herself in a difficult spot after her house was looted. A bidi-binder by profession, Rukina's husband died two years ago, and life was anyway not easy for her.
“On July 5, at least 50 people armed with iron rods raided my house and looted whatever they found. My neighbour Mahesh da and his wife came to my rescue. My son is still finding it difficult to deal with the trauma. I would like to thank Mahesh da and his wife for helping us. They also gave me Rs 1000 to manage daily requirements of the bidi manufacturing unit. The unit was closed due to the law and order situation,” Rukina said.
Speaking to News18, local councillor at Bashirhat, Babu Gaji, said, “It is good to see many people are coming forward to help each other. We live here like brothers and never witnessed such incidents. There is no doubt that outsiders are behind the clashes in Bashirhat and in Baduria.”
He said, “With the help of local administration, we formed a Hindu-Muslim night vigil committee to prevent outsiders from entering the village to instigate people in the name of religion.... The situation is peaceful now and I am eagerly waiting to attend few marriage ceremonies of my Hindu and Muslim brothers who had to postpone their marriages due to the tension in the area."
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