JAIPUR: The small hamlet of Bagru, about 30 km from Jaipur, had erupted in joy when locals heard that their ‘own Firoz Khan’ had been selected to the prestigious faculty of Sanskrit at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Uttar Pradesh.
The protests, which followed his appointment, however, ‘killed’ the spirit, as it were.
There is an air of anger and anguish in town.
“How could they,” is what people of the small town do not understand.
Firoz’s grandfather Ghafoor used to sing bhajans of Radha-Krishna and Sita-Ram at Bagru’s Jugal Durbar temple for years.
His father, Ramzan, for the last two decades is a fixture at the local Gaushala, singing bhajans and carrying forward the legacy of his forefathers. “I have trained my sons to sing and learn Sanskrit,” says Ramzan.
“If the protesting students at Banaras Hindu University were fully aware of my family’s background, I doubt if they would oppose Firoz. Not only has our family been singing bhajans of Ram and Krishna for over a century but I’ve trained all my four sons in Sanskrit and the ancient culture of our country,” he said.
Ramzan and his family are deeply respected by the entire Hindu community in Bagru. As Banwari Lal, the caretaker of Ramdev Gaushala says: “Most Hindus would not be able to serve cows as well as Ramzan has done for the past 18 years. He may have been born into a Muslim family but their sanskar is better than any Hindu.
He has even christened his daughter as Lakshmi. You have to see how people flock to him at the temple. It’s terrible to see what is happening to Firoz.”
“We never felt they are Muslims or we are Hindus as we all jointly celebrate Diwali or Eid. We have lived together for generations and Firoz and his brothers are like our own children. I feel as if my own son is being harassed,” said Santosh Gujar, a neighbour.
Firoz’s former school principal Yogendra Kumar said, “Firoz’s success has inspired our students to dream really big. Over 20 per cent of those learning Sanskrit are from Muslim families. Those who oppose him do not have any idea of the real India. We hope they develop good sense.”