The following reports (see attachment and the material reproduced below) appeared today (i.e. 02 October 2008) in the Jodhpur/ Jaipur editions of various newspapers (The Times of India, Rajasthan Patrika and Dainik Bhaskar) regarding the overwhelming response from the Muslim community of Jodhpur with regard to the tragedy at the Chamunda Devi Temple near the historic Mehrangarh Fort on 30th September.� These reports were made available to me by Dr. Jitendra Sharma, a well-known teacher educator of Jodhpur who has been waging relentless battle for the past several years for radical reforms in the teacher education system of the country and for resisting its privatization and commercialization.
As you would notice, the Muslim community played an outstanding role in ferrying the injured Hindus to the hospital and carrying the corpses in their auto rikshaws and taxis, entirely on a voluntary basis. The Muslims not only queued up for blood donations but also "offer[ed] water to those coming from cremation grounds after performing the last rites of their loved ones.
More importantly, Jodhpur's Muslim community decided that the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations will be just customary ones. The city's Quazi Muhammad Ayub Ansari declared that "But this year the celebration of Eid with much fanfare is beyond imagination considering the magnitude of the calamity that had swept the city on Tuesday. Since our Hindu brethren has sustained a huge human loss, we cannot even think of our celebrations (TOI)." Similar appeals were made by Maulana Sher Mohammed (Rajasthan Darul Ulum Ishakia), Maulana Hafizurrahaman (Darul Ulum Arabia Islamai) and all the Imams and Marwar Muslim Educational and Welfare Society. The latter Society offered a Rs. One lakh contribution to the district administration for relief and expressed willingness to "extend any possible help.."�
To me, the decision to keep the Eid celebrations as a low-key affair appeared as a most surprising decision, though definitely a welcome one. I telephoned Dr. Jitendra Sharma to express my surprise. He responded, "In Jodhpur this kind of solidarity is a routine matter and has been an organic part of our tradition. This should not surprise anyone."
I thought I should communicate this to all concerned since the national media did not give much importance to this phenomenon. Why have only the local editions reported the news, ignoring its national significance. Even the All India Radio has maintained an enigmatic silence. It may be a 'routine matter' for the Jodhpur people but no one need underestimate the significance of the political message emanating from the Rajasthan city.. It definitely reinforces our faith in India's composite heritage and the strength of our diverse polity which has withstood the assault of communal forces in the recent weeks in the wake of the terrorist bomb blasts.. It also challenges the blatant stereotyping of Muslims, particularly the youth.
May be some of us will take a lesson from Jodhpur's Muslims and put a halt to the high profile GARBA celebrations in sympathy with the colossal loss of life of the Hindu sisters and brothers, while continuing the holy tradition of Navratra fasts, offerings of special prayers to the deities and other religious ceremonies. This is the least we can do in the wake of the tragedy at Chamunda Devi Temple to express our solidarity and a sense of shared citizenship of India.
- Anil Sadgopal
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