Hundreds of people gathered to shoulder a bier, taking turns to chant ram naam satya hai and allahu akbar showcasing unadulterated love and unity. They came together for a person whom they loved unconditionally, someone who did not belong to any religion but humanity.
His name was Chaman for the Hindus and Rizwan for the Muslims. People gathered and Quran was read so was Bhagwat Geeta. His death is a reflection of his life that silenced even the snarkiest communal haters when people from both the community came together, keeping all communal tensions aside, for the one whom they loved unconditionally over their religions.
Meeting of faiths
Our motherland witnessed a heart-warming funeral procession of 24-year-old Chaman alias Rizwan in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district. Chaman, a mentally-challenged young boy, left for heavenly abode owing to his illness. He was carried on a pall of bamboo and grass as per Hindu traditions by people of both the communities.
The procession passed through the city and reached a Hindu cremation ground. Verses were recited by a maulana and a pandit from both Quran and Bhagwat Geeta respectively. Chaman was buried as per Muslim rituals and a havan was conducted by the Hindus.
Who was this man?
Chaman was born on a rainy day in August in Katghar area of Moradabad to Jwala Saini. He was her second born child, medically ill since childhood. His illness aggravated as he grew up. “He was not very active and was diagnosed with some medical condition. When he grew up, we did our best to take care of him but his illness grew worse with age and he went missing one day,” tells Jwala.
One day, in February 2009, Chaman went missing. The family did not file any complaint in the police. But coincidentally, in December the same year, Jwala found him near a mosque. When she tried to take Chaman back home, Subhan Alam, a Muslim man stepped in, claiming that Chaman was his younger brother Rizwan Alam.
The matter escalated, and both Subhan and Jwala took it to the police. Neither of them were able to provide a proof to establish their relation with the boy, as they did not have any documents or even a picture. That’s when the police made both of them their guardians.
Ever since, he had two families, a Hindu and a Muslim. For Hindus, he was Chaman and for Muslims, Rizwan.
Bringing the two communities together
However, Chaman was far from all the religious discriminations. This innocent mind did not understand communal hate. So he moved freely, loved and adored by everyone.
“Some days he shared lunch with us and slept in the Hindu locality. On other days, he ate there and slept here,” Subhan told HT.
Over the years, the love and care for Chaman united both the families. They became a large extended family who would share food and celebrate festivals together. Recently, Chaman’s health deteriorated. The families decided to take him to Bareilly for treatment but he could not make it and breathed his last.
After his death, members of both the communities wanted to perform his last rites as per their religion and a dispute rose amidst the chaos. Finally, the matter reached the local police station where a novel solution was found.
“Hindus wanted to cremate him but Muslims wanted to bury him. This led to a heated argument and we were forced to intervene,” said Circle Officer of the area Sudesh Gupta. He suggested a middle path to bury Chaman in the cremation ground.
Chaman might have been mentally ill but he did something that even the wisest of men fail to do. He taught people love, acceptance, and tolerance. He taught them that religion is nothing when you love someone unconditionally. He has left this world but he will forever remain alive in people’s hearts, as an example of love and unity.
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