KOLKATA: In the days of hate speech and attack on minorities, a story of communal harmony in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas stands out as an exception. Amanati Masjid (mosque) on a land owned by a Hindu family in a place called Barasat is a testament of a culture of inclusiveness. Family members of Partha Sarathi Basu, the owner of the land, have been caring for the mosque for over 50 years since they had migrated from Bangladesh. Every year, the family breaks bread with Muslims during Ramazan.
Located around 25 kms from Kolkata, this place has become a unique symbol of communal harmony. Partha’s grandfather shifted to Barasat in the aftermath of the 1964 riots from Khulna in Bangladesh after swapping his ancestral land with the land of a Muslim family in Barasat. After shifting, the Basu family found a barren mosque in the land.
“We were surprised as the property document had no mention of the structure,’’ said Partha. “’Many Hindu neighbours suggested we raze the structure but my grandfather did not. He used to say that one should always take care of any kind of religious place instead of destroying it. He renovated the mosque and nurtured it with love. Now, the mosque is a praying place for hundreds.”
The Basu family constructed a boundary wall around the mosque. A writing in Bengali on the wall of the mosque reads, “Probhuke pronaam karo (touch the feet of the almighty)”. The area has a small Muslim population but adjoining places have a considerable chunk of minority population. “We consider the place as our mosque. I come every day by cycling 4 kms. We all appreciate the role played by the Basu family’,” said Momin Ali, a regular visitor to the mosque.
Partha’s father and brothers maintain the mosque. “Like them, I try to devote as much time as possible. My son has also grown an affinity for this mosque. It is the pride of our family,’’ said Partha. The mosque is named after Shah Amanat, an 18th-century ascetic in Chittagong worshipped by Hindus and Muslims, including the Basus.