Moved by the story of a Bengal villages’ struggle to build a temple, a Muslim software engineer reportedly donated the residents Rs 3 lakh to help them.
According to a report on Anandabzar Patrika, Saidul Sheik is a software engineer who returned to India on a break after working in Kuwait and Australia. Though Sheikh had never visited the village in question, he met one of the residents at an eatery near his home. They started chatting, and in course of the conversation, Sheikh came to know how the villagers in Khasmora, near Domjur in West Bengal, were struggling to put together funds to build a temple. He decided he wanted to help.
The report says that Sheikh is a part of a Facebook group called ‘Amra Family’ — meaning ‘We Are A Family’ in Bengali — which has a few hundred members. The founders of the group organised an event in the outskirts of Kolkata, where Sheikh handed over the cheque to the villagers.
The residents of Khasmora, Anandabazar reports, are mostly poor Hindu farmers who had a tiny hut with a tin roof for a temple. In December 2016,communal clashes had broken out a few kilometres away, leading Hindus and Muslims to torch and vandalise shops and houses. Bombs were lobbed and houses were looted by rioters. Sixty five people were arrested.
Villagers told the reporters of Anandabzar that Sheikh’s act of generosity has restored their faith in humanity.
The Amra Family group, according to Facebook posts of its members, is not a registered NGO or a political outfit. It appears that the members — comprising locals of several neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Kolkata — engage in social work and charitable activities. Members have posted pictures of awareness drives against dengue.
Hindu-Muslim unity seems to be the thrust of this group. The page of its founder is smattered with posts claiming “Not In My Name” and protesting killings in Syria. In one post, the founder has shared a video of an event where Hindus gave Muslims a ceremonial welcome that included blowing conch shells and lighting lamps.
The founder captioned the post saying, “When Hindus-Muslims are fighting around the world, we meet amid the music of azaan and conch shells.”
The group has been organising a meet to promote Hindu-Muslim unity since last year in the periphery of Kolkata. In an invite, the founder Raja Banerjee referred to the recent instances of communal violence in West Bengal and commented how they took the lives of innocent people with no political affiliation. The meet, the invite said, meant to counter that narrative of hatred.