Won’t name anyone as suspect, says imam whose son was killed in Asansol clashes
Fearing that innocent people might be booked, the imam, who lost his 16-year-old son in the Asansol riots three days ago and stopped local Muslims from retaliating, has decided not to name any suspect before the police.
The imam of Nurani Mosque, Moulana Imdadul Rashidi, has made headlines by emerging as a messenger of peace in Asansol. The body of his son, Sibtullah, was recovered on Wednesday.
“I did not witness my son’s murder. He disappeared after the riots broke out in Asansol and I filed a missing complaint with the police. Police started a case of homicide after his body was identified four days ago,” the Imam told HT on Sunday.
“I have decided not to name anyone as suspect in my son’s murder since I was not a witness. I cannot let any innocent person land in trouble. Let the police investigate and find out who is guilty,” Rashidi said.
Speaking to HT in the mosque premises after the zohar (afternoon) namaz on Sunday, Rashidi said some of his people are misinterpreting his views as his reluctance to cooperate in the investigation. “Let them speculate. My stand is justified,” he said.
After Sibtullah’s body was recovered, Rashidi displayed great courage and resilience by calming down an agitated Muslim mob that was baying for blood. He even announced that he would leave Asansol for good if his followers resorted to violence. He even offered sermons after last Friday’s prayer and told people to maintain peace in Asansol.
“I have lost my son. But that cannot be the reason for peace being disturbed and people of two communities killing each other. Anyone who fears Allah and loves Allah cannot call for revenge. Forgiving is a lesson of Islam,” said the imam.
He had no regrets that the team of BJP MPs that visited Asansol on Sunday did not come to his neighbourhood. “If they do not want to come here it is their wish. If anyone comes to meet me I will meet him. But I will not allow anyone to gain political mileage through such meetings,” he said.
Rashidi said none from Trinamool Congress, except Asansol’s deputy mayor, called him after the tragic incident.
Meanwhile, inspired by Rashidi’s sermon, local Muslim youths have started guarding shops and property belonging to the handful of Hindu families that reside at Shitla Dangal area where Nurani mosque is located.
“After Sibtullah’s body was found some youths got furious. But we calmed them down. Not a single house, shop or the lone Shiva temple was attacked,” said Mehtab Alam, a local resident and an avid follower of Rashidi.
Another local resident, Md Kalam, said Muslims are keeping a close watch on properties owned by Hindus so that no outsider can create fresh trouble. “We will stop a riot- like situation from recurring,” he said.
R K Verma, a local jeweller, thanked his Muslim neighbours for protecting his shop. “I was not in town when the riots took place. I got very scared because there was valuable jewellery inside. When I called up my neighbours assured me that everything would be safe,” said Verma.