GUWAHATI: It is not just bad news the COVID-19 has thrown up. Some people have set examples of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood too.
Dev Kumar (55) did not think twice before giving shelter to 13 stranded toymakers from Bihar’s Khagaria and Saharsa districts under his roof. They have been living in his house in Lower Assam’s Dhubri district since the first week of March.
These artisans visit the house of Kumar, who is a potter, every year to sell toys in the fairs. They stay with him and return home after about two-three months.
“I give them shelter every year. They make toys with bamboo, plastic and earthen items. I manufacture the earthen items in my pottery and sell those to them. They sell the finished products in some fairs in Dhubri district,” Kumar told this newspaper.
The men were at their wit’s end after they were stranded in the lockdown. They had purchased food for themselves as long as they had money. Now, Kumar and his Hindu neighbours are feeding them.
“I have two extra rooms where they stay. This being the Ramzan month, somebody brings fruits and somebody else brings something else for them. Every evening, my family offers puja and they offer their Ramzan namaaz,” Kumar said.
The potter said these artisans were victims of circumstances and they desperately needed some help. He appealed to the government to facilitate the men’s return to Bihar.
Kumar lives in a joint family with his wife, three daughters, one son and three brothers. The family, originally hailing from Bihar, has been settled in Dhubri for decades.
The migrant toymakers are viewing Kumar as their “saviour”.
“He is our saviour. Help coming in from him and his neighbours has kept us alive. We will never forget them,” Sajid, who hails from Khagaria, said.
Fellow artisan Mohammad Hira from Saharsa said, “I will remain thankful to him (Kumar) for the rest of my life. I am the lone breadwinner in my five-member family and I am stranded here. My wife and children in Bihar are facing a lot of problems.”
Two days ago, when a Hindu died in Assam’s Sivasagar, some Muslims had taken the lead in cremating the body. Advocate Masud Akhtar Zaman of Dhubri said the two incidents underscored goodness still prevails in the society.
“This is what Hinduism and Islam have taught us. Unfortunately, such positive stories often go unreported,” he said.