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Former Muslim employers perform last rites of 75-year-old Hindu man in Patna

Mohammad Rizwan and his friends carry the bier with the body of Shah to the cremation ground in Patna, Bihar. | Photo: The Telegraph


Shah, who was living alone in the city and had no relatives to cremate him, was suffering from a liver ailment. 

Sami Ahmad | TwoCircles.net

PATNA (BIHAR) — In a gesture of communal harmony that has been applauded by netizens, former Muslim employers arranged the last rites of a 75-year-old Hindu man Ram Deo Shah who died July 1 in Patna, Bihar. 

Shah, who was living alone in the city and had no relatives to cremate him, was suffering from a liver ailment which he had revealed to his former employers days before his death. 

“During his visit to our home, he told us about the illness and asked us to arrange some household items. I was buying these when I got a call on July 1 morning that he had passed away. It was sad to hear it,” Mohammad Rizwan, garment trader and former employer of Shah, told TwoCircles.net. 

As per Rizwan, Shah had been working at their shop since 2001 as an accountant before he had to quit the job during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022.  

Rizwan said that it had become difficult for Shah to commute during the lockdown. “We arranged a job for him at a medical store near Sabzi Bagh area in eastern Patna where he was putting up in a rented room. It was more convenient for him this way,” he said. 

Rizwan said that chacha, as he used to call Ram Deo, was a simple man with minimal needs. “He lived a very simple life though he used to get a respectable salary. He used to come to our house on occasions like Eid. He was very prompt in his duty,” Rizwan said.

When Umesh Kumar, brother of the house owner where Shah was renting a room, informed Rizwan about Shah’s death, he and his staff started making preparations for the last rites. 

“My brother Mohammad Arman and staff members Vijay Kumar, Omprakash and Ranjit made arrangements for Shah’s last rites,” he said. 

Appreciating the gesture by Rizwan and his family, Umesh told TwoCircles.net that society must acknowledge such efforts. “Though we also joined his funeral, it was Rizwan and his brother along with his staff who took charge of it from preparing Arthi to taking his body to Gulbi Ghat at the river Ganga,” Kumar said. 

Rizwan recalled that once they had asked Shah what they should do if something happens to him. “chacha said that you were my family. If I die, please arrange my funeral. We respected his wishes,” he added. 

On the day when Shah breathed last, his neighbour handed over Rs 12,000 to Rizwan’s brother Armaan. “We have decided to donate this money to either an orphanage or any charity organisation,” he said. 

Rizwan’s staff members, who are mostly Hindu, posted pictures and videos of Rizwan shouldering the Arthi on social media.

Rizwan said that for him it “was a normal act of humanity.” 

“It is good that people liked it but for us, it was our duty to fulfil our promise of a proper cremation for him,” he said. 

Leader of the Jan Adhikar Party, Pappu Yadav phoned Rizwan to thank his family for this gesture and expressed his desire to meet them.

Sartaj Khan, who is a neighbour of Rizwan, told TwoCirlces.net that in today’s India we need such gestures from all communities. “Rizwan’s father late Haji Iqbal showed his magnanimity by providing him a job and his sons have set a great example by arranging a respectful funeral for Ram Deo Ji”, Sartaj said.

 

Sami Ahmad is a journalist based in Patna, Bihar. He tweets at @samipkb

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