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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Sweets for Ram rally beget fruits for iftar in Midnapore

Midnapore town is barely 120km from Howrah's Shibpur and 135km from Hooghly's Rishra

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 06.04.23, 06:24 AM
Members of Muslim community gift sweets to organisers of the Ram Navami procession in Midnapore on Tuesday

Members of Muslim community gift sweets to organisers of the Ram Navami procession in Midnapore on Tuesday

A group of persons from the minority community in Midnapore town on Tuesday evening turned up with sweets and flowers to wish the organisers of a Ram Navami procession, a gesture which was reciprocated with gifting baskets of fruits when the rally passed by a mosque.

This picture of amity in ward 7 of Midnapore municipality in West Midnapore district stood out at a time when violent clashes over Ram Navami processions rocked a few areas in the state since late last week.

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Midnapore town is barely 120km from Howrah's Shibpur and 135km from Hooghly's Rishra. These two pockets have witnessed violent conflicts between the two communities over the last six days.

That ongoing strife between the communities had led the government to take special measures in various pockets during Thursday's Hanuman Jayanti to keep at bay any untoward incidents.

People from both communities said that the show of amity was a move to send a message to people across Bengal that no intimidation could lead to communal strife if there was bonhomie among the people of a certain area that went beyond the identities of caste, creed and religion.

Organisers of Ram Navami procession hand over fruit baskets to those observing the roza in Midnapore on Tuesday

Organisers of Ram Navami procession hand over fruit baskets to those observing the roza in Midnapore on Tuesday

"We are getting information of communal strife from various places of our state followed by a political war of words over the past few days. Last week there was a petty conflict involving a small group of people from both communities. Though it was resolved, we did not neglect it because of the present situation. We decided to set an example to show our unity as no dark force can wreak havoc in our area," said Syed Sahidul Islam, secretary of the Shah Adil Mosque in Midnapore town.

Sahidul, along with seven others from his community, on Tuesday evening reached Bajrang Byamagar, an 87-year-old club that organised the Ram Navami procession, and wished them well with ladoos and flowers when the procession was about to start.

Members of the club welcomed them and felicitated them with flowers and scarves. People from both communities hugged each other and vowed to maintain harmony in their area.

"In friendship, you give your friends a return gift. So, members of our club went to the local mosque with baskets of fruits to wish them on Ramzan. We requested them to have the fruits during their iftar," said Gobinda Rajak, a member of the club that had organised the Ram Navami celebrations.

After the pleasantries, a slogan was chanted by the members of both communities — "Na Hindu, na Musalman/Sabse bara insaan (neither Hindu, nor Muslim, human being above all)."

Local people said the Bajrang Byamagar, set up in 1936, is one of the oldest organisations in Midnapore town. Their Ram Navami processions have never witnessed any conflict even though the local Shah Adil Mosque is barely 250 metres away.

Last week, a small conflict started between two communities over a religious rally in the area. Though it was over a petty issue, the matter was resolved with the intervention of elders from both communities.

"We have proved that harmony among people cutting across religious lines can keep us united. No one can intimidate or provoke us if we stay united," said Sona Sheikh, the treasurer of the mosque.

Police said the Ram Navami rally had passed through several minority-populated areas in Midnapore town but no instance of any conflict was reported.

Indrajit Panigrahi, Trinamul councillor of the area, said that this show of amity had helped avert any untoward incident.

"These gestures by both the communities have set an example for everyone how to keep violence at bay. There are around 30 per cent minority population in the areas surrounding us," said Panigrahi, who witnessed the show of amity along with Shyamal Bhakat, a former councillor of Ward 7 of Midnapore municipality.

Dhritiman Sarkar, the West Midnapore police chief, thanked both the communities for their efforts in keeping conflict at bay.

"We welcome the gestures of the people of the area from both the communities who have set such a good example for everyone. There is no need of any large contingent of cops to monitor such events if there is a genuine bond among people," Sarkar said.

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