The communal violence in Asansol following Ram Navami celebrations took away his son, but Imam Imdadulla Rashidi urged everyone to maintain peace and threatened to leave town if anybody retaliated to avenge the death. His son Sibtulla Rashidi, a Class X student, was beaten to death following communal clashes in Rail Par area of Asansol on Tuesday afternoon. His body was recovered late on Wednesday night and identified on Thursday.
In a heart-warming gesture, Rashidi, Imam of Noorani Mosque in Chetladanga Nadi Par, on Saturday appealed to his followers to ignore rumours and start a campaign against false news trying to trigger communal tensions. The imam said that if you could not see or verify a news, consider it false. “There are so many baseless rumours — this has happened, that has happened, this area attacked, that house burnt…. Such false words spread tension at a time when things are slowly getting back to normal here,” Imam said.
Speaking of the day his son Sibtulla went missing, the Imam said, “There was chaos outside when he went out. He was picked up by a group of miscreants. My older son alerted the police, but he was made to wait at the police station. We were later informed that a body had been recovered by the police. He was identified in the morning.”
After the last rites of his son at Eidgah Maidan, Rashidi appealed for peace, “I want peace. My boy has been taken away. I don’t want any more families to lose their loved ones. I don’t want any more houses to burn. I have already told the gathering that I will leave Asansol if there is any kind of retaliation. I told them that if you love me, you will not raise a finger.” The last rite was attended by around 30,000 people.
“I have been an Imam for the last 30 years. It is important that I give the right message to the people — a message of peace. I need to get over my personal loss. People of Asansol are not like this. This is a conspiracy,” he said. The Imam came in for high praise from Asansol mayor Jitendra Tiwari. “The Imam was instrumental in calming the angry youth and cooperated with the administration. We are proud of him. Despite the pain he is suffering following the loss of a son, he appealed for peace.”
According to reports, police have detained several people in connection with Sibtulla’s death and are interrogating them. We are also looking into whether some of those already arrested had a hand in this case (the teen’s death) as well.” said the officer.
The clashes that broke out on Monday in Raniganj following a Ram Navami procession lead to a death of one person identified as 35-year-old Chhote Yadav and several police officers suffered injuries. It spread to neighbouring Asansol the next day, where Sibtulla Rashidi was killed. Two other people S K Sahjahan in Purulia and Maqsood Khan in Kankinara, were killed in violence last Sunday.