As Eid passed off peacefully in the three districts worst hit by the Bodo-Muslim violence in lower Assam on Monday, people like farmer Firdaus Ahmed — who used to give more than his share of zakat (alms) on this auspicious day — found themselves at the receiving end at relief camps in the state.
Ahmed, 49, now an inmate at a relief camp in Gauripur, was reluctant to accept the Rs. 33 and a packet of semia held out by a rotund patron who came in a sedan.
But he knew he had no option and nowhere to go.
Gauripur, 280km west of Guwahati, is in Dhubri district which has 118 relief camps housing 1.55 lakh victims of the clashes that began on July 20, killing 78 people and displacing some 400,000 migrant Muslims and tribal people, mostly Bodos.
"I must have done something wrong to turn from a zakat giver to a zakat taker in the space of a few months. I have no house left and I doubt if I can get my farm back," Ahmed said.
Last Eid, he had handed out alms to 10 beggars — two more than what he required to for his family of eight.
Like the beneficiaries, patrons too headed for relief camps across Dhubri with a heavy heart. "How could we be overtly festive when thousands are languishing in relief camps in the vicinity? One doesn’t feel happy giving alms to those who were fairly prosperous until the other day," Gauripur-based contractor Farooque Sarkar, 55, said.
Sarkar was one of many who went beyond the locality vagrants for the relief camps — an unusual zakatdestination.
Khudimari village-based gas station owner Dulaluddin Ahmed, 52, showered his attention on 13 people at the Dumurdaha relief camp.
"Each time I handed over the zakat, I asked Allah for sanity to prevail so that these hapless people can regain the confidence to work their way to prosperity again," he said.