Akhtar Raza realised he may never reach home on Tuesday night until he read one of the forwarded messages from Jamat Raza-e-Mustafa and randomly called a member for help. Volunteer Mohammed Ahmed (34) immediately rode his bike from Ghatkopar to Saki Naka to pick Raza up and drop him at his home in Kurla. “Cars and buses are getting stranded. But on a bike it is easier to navigate,” Ahmed said.
Like Ahmed, another volunteer, Worli resident Aarif Khan(29) was answering calls through the day from strangers stranded in waist-deep water. He took seven people home on his bike, one by one. “A group of five tourists from Ahmedabad who had come for Lalbaugcha Raja’s darshan were stuck in Worli. They had missed their train to Ahmedabad. I asked Madina masjid to accommodate them. In such times, nobody looks at religion,” Khan said over the phone, not long after dropping off a couple in Bawla Masjid, Worli, for an overnight stay.
Mosques, gurdwaras and temples in the city opened their doors to stranded people of all faiths through Tuesday and also for the night. The Diocesan Pastoral Center, opposite Mount Mary church in Bandra, provided free food and stay to people stranded in that area.
In the three-storey Chishti Hindustani Mosque in Central Mumbai’s Byculla, over 500 people from CST railway station and nearby areas came to take shelter on Tuesday night, all belonging to various religious groups.
Donors pooled in to arrange a simple dal-chawal dinner for everyone. “We saw women stranded at railway stations, children crying in rain and decided our premise was big enough to give shelter to hundreds,” said Maulana Abdul Jabbar. The mosque made announcements over loudspeakers, garnering support from several locals who pitched in to arrange for food and essentials.
“We arranged 20 tempos to get people from different locations till the mosque,” the maulana added. People from as far as Kalyan, Borivali and Thane spent the night at the mosque — Hindus, Christians and Muslims, all damp and tired, sharing the same space. “Every one is helping everyone here. So many volunteers turned up at the mosque. Nobody is asking a person’s name before helping,” said volunteer Tejas Ojha, a Byculla resident.
Mangala Janardhan Survade, a Govandi resident, visits Byculla everyday where she works as domestic help, along with four other women. On Tuesday, they waited at Byculla station for an hour, in vain. “I have never entered a mosque before. None of us has. These people came and asked if we needed help,” she said. Her friend Sheetal Sonawane added, “Humanity rises during tough hours.”
In Govandi’s Shia mosque in Lotus Colony, over 15 people took shelter in the late evening hours. “People are coming and going. We are providing them food,” said joint secretary of the mosque, Haider Abbas. At St Michael’s Church in Mahim and in at Holy Family church in Chakala too, the stranded taking shelter were all just weary Mumbaiites, of all faiths.
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