Kolkata: At a time when many Bengalis have expressed concerns over polarisation and religious sloganeering, an imam in Murshidabad district on Monday performed the last rites of his Hindu friend that involved chanting of mantras.
The incident happened barely two weeks after a madrasa teacher, Hafeez Mohammad Shahrukh Haldar, was thrashed and pushed off a moving local train by a group of youth for not uttering ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the state.
It was around 4am, when Nurul Islam, an imam at Aurangabad Jumma Masjid in north Murshidabad, busy with his morning prayer, ‘azaan’, heard that his friend Ganesh Rabi Das at Mominpara had passed away after prolonged illness.
He immediately rushed to Das’ house. In the meantime, his other Muslim friends gathered and took the responsibility of conducting the last rites. They called a priest and made every arrangement following Hindu traditions.
Das’ friends then carried his body on their shoulders to the nearby Devipur cremation ground while chanting the customary ‘bol Hari, Hari bol’ and prayed for soul’s peace.
Islam told News18, “He was my neighbour and a friend. He was a cobbler and many people expressed their unwillingness to do the needful. It was my social duty to stand by him and take care of the last rites. I called up my friends and cremated him as per Hindu rituals. We also chanted Hindu mantras so that my friend could rest in peace.”
“I would like to request everybody around to come forward and follow the path of peace and humanity. Religious hatred or division in the name of religion is not good for us and our next generation,” he added.
Islam was later conferred with a memento and bouquet by the office-in-charge of Suti police station at Aurangabad for his act.
BJP’s north Murshidabad president Sujit Das said, “We are planning to honour him in a small event on brotherhood. I must say he did an excellent work. We are proud of him.”
Local Trinamool Congress MP Abu Taher Khan sent a note of appreciation to him and decided to reward him at the ‘Imam Sammelan’ on July 13 at Lalbag in the district.
“I would like to commend him for his great work. I think more people from all communities should come forward for such kinds of social work,” he added.