Word For Peace
In a rare gesture aimed at strengthening communal amity in society, Sukhpal Singh Bedi, a septuagenarian social activist from Purkazi town in Muzaffarnagar, has donated his 100 sq. yard plot for the construction of a mosque.
Mr. Bedi, who runs a cloth shop in the town, said that it was his tribute to Guru Nanak on his 550th birth anniversary. “When Guru Nanak got enlightenment, the first words that he said was Na koi Hindu, na Mussalman (There is no Hindu and no Muslim). As Bedis are known to be direct descendants of Guru Nanak, by this small gesture, I aim to foster the same spirit in society, where I could see a sense of distrust emerging once again in the last few months,” Mr. Bedi told The Hindu.
“It has given me peace of mind. It is not that I have a lot of property, but have enough to share with others,” he added.
On Sunday, Mr. Bedi handed over the papers of the land to Purkazi Nagar Panchayat Chairman Zahir Farooqui in the presence of his family members and hundreds of people at a function organised to celebrate Prakash Parv.
‘A befitting reply’
Mr. Farooqui said the gesture underlines what India stands for, and is an answer to those who are trying to create a communal divide. “The community will contribute towards the construction of the mosque,” he said.
Mr. Bedi’s parents hailed from Bedian village near Lahore and came to India after Partition as refugees. “I was born in a refugee camp in Delhi’s Red Fort. Later, we shifted to Purkazi and started our business afresh.”
He said he never allowed the wounds of Partition to fester. “My father always told me that it was not a communal but a political decision. Had it been a communal issue, how could we flourish in Purkazi where over 70% of the population is Muslim,” he asked. He added that the “anti-Sikh riots of 1984, were an act of terror”.
“But again, I saw it as political opportunism of some people,” said Mr. Bedi, who was associated with the Congress in his younger days.
The old man has taken signatures of his sons and his son-in-law on an affidavit stating that they would not claim the donated land after his death.