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Muslim men carry Hindu woman’s bier in Bhopal

Muslim men carrying the bier of a Hindu woman in Bhopal on Wednesday.Special arrangement

Muslim men carrying the bier of a Hindu woman in Bhopal on Wednesday.Special arrangement  

Former CM Kamal Nath praises act

Since the lockdown kicked in, Sama Namdev’s family has relied on their neighbours for food and house rent. And when she died on Wednesday of tuberculosis, the neighbours, Muslims, came forward yet again. This time, they bought items for her last rites, put together a bier and carried her body on their shoulders to a ground, where they cremated her with Hindu rituals.

“We believe in supporting each other during tough times, and help each other tide over any crisis,” said Mohammed Shahid Khan, 43, a resident of Teela Jamalpura in Bhopal.

Without work

Sama Namdev's husband, a kulfi vendor, is left without work now. The sons, daily wage labourers, face the same fate. And their relatives, staying in other parts of the city, could not reach owing to barricading. “Due to the lockdown, they are unable to step out for work. So, their condition is pretty bad,” said Mr. Khan, who works at the Barkatullah University. The body was brought to the locality at 3 a.m., and Mr. Khan and 15 other Muslim men swung into action in the morning. They just needed someone from the family to guide them with the rites.

Navigating through a shuttered market, Mr. Khan reached Mangalwara, 2.5 km away, where he knew a shopkeeper, who gave them a white shroud, rice, an earthen pot, sacred thread and incense sticks. And at 11 a.m., they took out the procession.

‘Following lockdown’

The possible threat of contracting the novel coronavirus from the body, if she had died of it, or coming too close to each other came last. First, the men wanted to accord her the last honours. “We are strictly following the lockdown, so we hope the disease is at bay,” he said.

The family had stayed at the rented house for 25 years, but faced difficulty in paying the rent of late. “We will not allow them to leave at any cost. They are an integral part of the neighbourhood,” said Mr. Khan.

Praising their act, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath wrote on Twitter: “...We saw a picture of communal harmony. Muslim youth gave shoulder to the bier of a Hindu woman. Such love and brotherhood shows our Ganga-Jamuna sanskriti.”

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