Asansol Imam released his son’s assailant

Even as Imam Rashidi disclosed on Saturday that he had released one of the assailants who killed his son, Union minister Babul Supriyo was given a lesson in culture by Prakash Raj

Photo courtesy: TV screenshot
Photo courtesy: TV screenshot
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Dhairya Maheshwari

On Saturday Imadul Rashidi seemed ready to explode. Having lost his son to rioters in Asansol, having appealed for peace and threatening that he would leave the town if there were to be any retaliation. Having spoken to 50 journalists on the phone, he is understandably irritated and exasperated.

But the sadness is unmistakable as he refuses to blame anyone or speak about the role of leaders. “If I say anything, it will have repercussions for the entire community, not only here but across India,” he asserted, “Do you want me to stir up communal trouble by speaking up against political leaders?”

The Imam, who is being hailed as the one who single-handedly restored communal harmony in Asansol, however, reveals that he had caught hold of one of the assailants who had abducted his son and beat him to death.

“I had caught one of the boys involved in the killing of my son. But I let him go. Hatred will get us nowhere. Everyone needs to understand that,” he yells over the phone.

Meanwhile, during a panel discussion Kannad actor Prakash Raj gave a lesson on ‘culture’ to Union minister Babul Supriyo, who had threatened some protestors in Asansol who wanted him to go back and told them that he would skin them alive. That was not the language of a cultured person, pointed out Prakash Raj while lauding the measured and cultured response of the Imam.

“I had told myself that I wouldn’t speak to any journalist over the phone because I understand that the media these days manipulates the message to their own advantage. Yet, I have spoken to over 50 journalists since yesterday,” he added.

“I want to get my message of communal harmony to resonate across the country. Can’t you just do that ?” Rashidi pleaded

He has been presiding over the congregation at the Noori Masjid for the last 30 years and lived with his “mother, wife and children before “Allah took away my 16 year old son this week.

His son Sibtulla had gone missing on Tuesday, with his dead body found the next evening. Speaking at his son’s funeral procession on Thursday, the Imam appealed to thousands of mourners to not retaliate in any way whatsoever to his son’s death, winning him admirers across the country.

“Why should any parent go through what we are experiencing? I just asked everyone to maintain calm and warned them that I would leave the city if there were any more deaths,” Rashidi said.

He believes that his appeal had a positive effect on the town’s population, which, according to 2011 Census, had over 20 per cent Muslims.

“The businesses are starting to open again. We can see people back on the streets. It is encouraging,” said Rashidi.

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