In this village, Hindus and Muslims joined hands to protect a 120-year-old mosque

Khanpara at Basirhat, remained an epitome of communal harmony
Report by: 
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
5 Jul 2017

Saumen Roy Chaudhury did not sleep the whole night yesterday. Nor did Fayaj Khan, Imran Khan or Aritro Banerjee. The men, all residents of Khanpara village of Basirhat, of North 24 Parganas district, which had been ravaged by a communal riot for the last two days, kept a night vigil yesterday to guard the 120-year old mosque of the village.

What made the boys of the village, mostly inhabited by Muslims--there were only two-three families of Hindus among a cluster of about 50 Muslim families--was a threat by miscreants to attack the mosque, a pride of the villagers.
``The mosque had to be protected at any cost. We were ready to shed our last drop of blood to save it from vandalism,'' Roy Chaudhury told this reporter who is also from the same village. Echoed Imran Khan, a friend of Saumen: ``We formed a vigilante group to protect this mosque. It was a combined defence,'' Imran told this reporter.

In fact Fayaj Khan and his friends and relatives from the village threatened a Muslim cleric of the village with dire consequences when the man started a hate campaign against other communities and began instigating youth of the village to disrupt life in the area. ``We told him if he did not stop the hate campaign we will just kick him out of the village. He had no business destroying communal harmony that we are so proud of,'' Feroze Khan, another resident, told Echo of India.
Even today, when some miscreants tried to create trouble in the village, the group showed utmost restraint and made fervent appeals to the administration to maintain peace in the area.

Amid the mistrust, suspicion and fear in this town that followed sporadic violent incidents at Basirhat and adjacent villages, Khanpara remained an epitome of communal bonhomie and camaraderie. The town otherwise showed sporadic violence today with armed goons roaming around and shouting slogans. Groups were seen guarding religious shrines while at some places leaders of two communities started initiatives to start a dialogue for bringing peace back to this town, which had never seen such kind of violence in its known history.

While the whole town witnessed a shutdown today, train services remained disrupted for the whole day. ``The situation is under control now. We are keeping a strong vigil,'' District Magistrate Antara Acharya, told Echo of India.