Arka Bhaduri, TDN World: Today election is going on in Asansol. Sibghatullah, 17, the son of Asansol’s Imam was killed one year and one month back, at this very day. He was hacked to death by a group of armed people who had participated in a Ram Navami rally. Following the incident, thousands of Muslims gathered infront of Nurani mosque with the dead body of Sibghatullah, who had very recently given his 10th standard board exam. They were all planning to avenge the murder. Right at this time, Imam Rashidi came out from his room, at the top of the one and half storied mosque building. Despite lose of son, the father addressed the huge congregation of people, saying he doesn’t want any kind of retaliation. Eye for an eye cannot be the solution. If any non-Muslim is touched, he will leave Asansol. After these strong words by Imam Rashidi the tensed situation there gradually dissolved, calmed down the rage. The soaring heat of riot melted down.

During that time I also travelled to Asansol. I met with the Imam, had conversation with him. He told me, while running his fingers through the books of his dead son, ” I know how it feels when you lose your son. That’s why I don’t want any other person’s son to die.” I asked him if he was willing to file police case, to which he replied, ” What would happen by filing a case! My son will not return again. Besides, when the entire thing happened, I was not at the spot. Just merely depending on other people’s oral account if I file a case, there is also an equal possibility that any innocent person might wrongly be convicted. I will not do that as long as I am alive.”

I will be thankful forever to those people who sent me there in Asansol to pay visit to him. If I didn’t have the fortune to meet him in person, I feel, I would have been deprived from meeting a divine figure. After that first visit, I had interaction with him a number of times. He asked me to check out Sigbatulla’s Madhyamik Board exam result from online. I also made him phone calls, visited him. Sometimes for professional cause, sometimes without any reason at all. Though we don’t have any apparent similarities. Our age, upbringing, ideology, likings – everything is different. Yet, I often feel that this person is not only a teacher of mine, he is my friend.

Today vote is taking place in Asansol. I have talked with Imam over phone, yesterday. He was unwilling to speak anything related to vote. Since I insisted, only he said, ” Those who try to create division among people on the basis of religion, make Muslim fight against Hindu, and the Hindu against Muslim, they should not be elected.”

I could well recall, when Sigbatulla was murdered, a group of people claimed that the Imam was not an Indian citizen, nor his son Sigbatulla. Imam Rashidi, who was seated in his little damped room, in his own hands held before me their Adhaar cards – of his dead son and him and said, ” Look sir, this is the proof. We are Indian. This is our country. Please, don’t send us away.”

Today election will be carried out in Asansol. The fourth phase of Indian parliamentary general election. Imam Rashidi will caste his vote. Had Sigbatulla been alive today, he would have tourned 18. He would have casted his vote.