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Mentally challenged man brings Hindus, Muslims together, even in death in UP’s Moradabad

The 24-year-old man, who was called as Chaman by Hindus and Rizwan by Muslims brought both the religious together during festivals and even death as his body was carried in Hindu tradition and buried as per Islam.

lucknow Updated: Mar 22, 2018 20:40 IST
Chandan Kumar
Chandan Kumar
Hindustan Times, Bareilley
Uttar Pradesh,Bareilley,Hindu tradition
People from both Hindu and Muslim communities along with local police participated in the funeral procession.(HT File Photo)

A 24-year-old mentally challenged youth who died of illness in Moradabad on Wednesday was carried on a pall of bamboo and grass as per Hindu tradition by people of both communities.

The procession passed though the city to reach a Hindu cremation ground where he was buried as per Muslim rituals. A maulana and a pandit recited verses from the Quran and Bhagwad Gita respectively.

Strange though the last rites may appear, they reflected the life he lived.

“He was born on a rainy day in August, I don’t remember the date but we named him as Chaman,” said Jwala Saini — a resident of Katghar locality in Moradabad. She said he was her second child. “He was not very active and was diagnosed with some medical condition when he grew up. We did our best to take care of him but his illness grew worse with age and he went missing one day,” she said.

According to the police, Chaman went missing from home in February 2009. The family did not lodge any complaint. In December 2009, Jwala reportedly found Chaman near a mosque but when she tried to take him back, a Muslim Subhan Alam stopped her, claiming that the boy was his younger brother Rizwan Alam.

Both families reached the nearby police station to claim the boy but failed to provide any proof. “There were no pictures and the families failed to provide any conclusive evidence. So the local police decided to make both families the guardian of the boy,” said circle officer of the area Sudesh Gupta.

Since that day, the boy became Chaman for Hindus and Rizwan for Muslims. “There were no restrictions on Rizwan. He moved freely. Some days he shared lunch with us and slept in the Hindu locality, on other days he ate there and slept here,” said Subhan Alam.

At Subhan’s house, Rizwan was treated like a younger brother, with Subhan’s children calling him uncle. In Jwala Saini’s house, he was Chaman, her younger son. She fed and cleaned him whenever he was home.

“It was a bit disturbing at first, but I was satisfied with how the Muslims treated him. Chaman was not fit to understand the divide of religion or houses so I decided to continue with this arrangement,” said Jwala.

As years went by, the care for Chaman aka Rizwan brought his Hindu and Muslim families together.

“Both families have recently become like one large extended family. They share food and even celebrate their festivals together,” said the local councillor of the area.

Small wonder they came together yet again when Chaman fell ill recently. They were about to take him to a better hospital in Bareilly when he breathed his last on Wednesday evening in front of Subhan.

People from both communities started preparing for the last rites as per their customs and claimed first right on the body. “Hindus wanted to cremate him but Muslims wanted to bury him. This led to a heated argument and we were forced to intervene,” said the CO.

It was he who suggested a middle path to bury Chaman in the cremation ground.

The cremation ground committee agreed to give a piece of land for the burial and arranged a havan for him.

Now, both Jawala Saini and Subhan Alam are planning to perform rituals as per their religious beliefs for Chaman aka Rizwan who never understood the divide of religion.

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 20:39 IST