Of communal amity in the time of Covid

Radheshyam Jadhav | Updated on April 13, 2020

Good neighbours help bridge the communal divide in Aurangabad

No relatives and community members responded to Anil Rajput when he knocked at their doors for two days seeking help to cremate the body of his brother Sunil, who died of tuberculosis in an Aurangabad hospital. Some of them were afraid of stepping out because of Covid-19, while others were unwilling to shoulder the cremation expenses.

Finally, his Muslim neighbours Muhammad Farhad and Muhammad Riyaz came to his rescue. They acted as pallbearers and carried the body to a crematorium. Speaking to local media, Anil said only his neighbours came to his aid when he was most in need of support.

Communal tension

Anil, who works as a mason, was moved by the gesture and so was the city, which is known for Hindu-Muslim communal tension -- Aurangabad has frequently witnessed tensions and riots along communal lines.

Even as the State is fighting to contain the coronavirus pandemic, stories of how participants in the Tablighi Jamaat’s congregation at Nizamuddin last month got infected by the coronavirus and travelled to many cities transmitting it are being discussed at length in Maharashtra, causing communal tension in some areas. Messages of hate have been spreading through social media adding fuel to the fire. The story of Anil Rajput and his neighbours comes at a time when the government is worried about the communal divide.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in his recent address to the State, said that besides coronavirus, there was a communal virus that was trying to divide society. “Any nation, any caste or religion … there is one virus and its ill-effects are one,” he asserted. Thackeray said stringent action would be taken against those trying to create a rift in the name of caste and religion. He asserted that the State and its people were together amidst this crisis.

Commenting on a social media platform, local MP Imtiaz Jaleel said: “Feel proud to see all this in my city!! It’s what India is all about.”

Published on April 13, 2020

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