KOLKATA: At a time when the country is witnessing politics of polarisation, a non-descript village in West Bengal’s Malda has set up an example of brotherhood between two communities. Muslim residents of minority-dominated Gargari village in Harishchandrapur police station area raised funds to bring back the body of their Hindu neighbour, Chandan Mahaldar (38), who had gone to south India in search of job after becoming jobless last year because of lockdown and died in Secunderabad (Telangana) three days ago after falling off a speeding train. They also shared shoulder to carry the body for cremation.
“Chandan was a poor villager like us. He was our neighbour. His family is in distress and what we did was nothing extraordinary. We stood by one of our neighbour’s family,’’ said Hasan Ali.Chandan’s wife Pratima said her husband had left home to bring back smile on the faces of his family members. “I thought I would never be able to see his face for the last time. But the way our neighbours stood beside me setting aside their religious belief, I will never forget it,” she said.
Chandan had returned home last year after nationwide lockdown was announced. “A few days later, my father-in-law passed away. My husband and I borrowed from local money lenders and started selling vegetables. But it did not prove effective. He borrowed money from a local contractor and left home to work as a construction worker,” recounted Pratima.
Chandan is survived by his wife and three minor children. “We were shocked to hear the news. Without wasting time, we decided to raise funds and collected nearly Rs 30,000. We hired a vehicle and brought back the body,’’ said Latif Sheikh, another neighbour. Local MLA Tazmul Hossain said the act of villagers in Gargari is a glaring example of communal harmony in Bengal. “I will meet Chandan’s family and try my level best to help them,” he assured.