By Mohammed Siddique, TwoCircles.net
Bhainsa (Andhra Pradesh): It is exactly nine days since the most deadly communal riot this area had ever seen broke out in Bhainsa, poor town of underdeveloped Adilabad district.
As the dust storm raised by the deaths and destruction is settling down, along with the tales of woes of the victims, the stories of humanity and spirit of bravery to save the live of the people of other communities are also coming to the light.
One such story belongs to 60 year old Tulja Bai, a brave woman who led the army of her son, daughters and grand sons to save the life of the family of a Muslim neighbor whose house was set on fire with three children and a woman inside.
Tulja Bai standing outside her home
The laudable story of putting the lives of her own family in grave danger, taking on a frenzied mob, many of them drunk to save others has now become the talk of the town as more and more people are acknowledging and applauding the gritty old lady. But Tulja Bai is taking it all in stride.
"What I did was nothing extraordinary. After all it was our duty to take care of our neighbor in the time of distress", she says with whole hearted laugh.
Her neighbor Syed Mohammed Pasha and Syed Osman on the other hand have not stopped thanking Tulja Bai, her son Thakur Ramesh Singh and other family members. "We owe the lives of our family to Tulja Bai", said Pasha.
Recalling the Friday, October 10, when the communal violence had erupted during the Durga procession near her home, just behind the Panjesha mosque, Tulja Bai told this correspondent, "my family was watching the goings on from our window. The mob was rushing in to our lane and attacking houses, breaking downs and looting. When we saw smoke coming out of the house of Osman, we rushed out. When I saw a small child running out of the burning house, we realized that there were people inside".
Even as the mob threatened and abused Tulja Bai to prevent her from going inside, she and other family members rushed in to the house and rescued the lives of Safia Begum, wife of Osman and her three children.
"We took them inside our house and ensure their safety. Then we returned with the water to put out the fire. Some people in the mob tried to snatch away the buckets from our hand but we pushed them back. I told them this is the matter of our locality and these people were like our family members and no body should stop us from helping our neighbors".
Tulja Bai used the water stocked in her home to put the fire in Muslim neighbor’s house.
"At the time no male member was at home as I was out to report the procession and the trouble", said Pasha, who works as a reporter for a Hyderabad based daily. "My brother had also gone out along with other family members. We had not expected any trouble as Durga procession has become an annual affair for last three four years", he said.
Though the four members of the family survived, the house and the life long savings of the family was looted or burnt. All the belongings kept in two rooms were turned in to ashes. TV was crushed to pieces and the iron Almriah was reduced to mangled steel.
"The assailants took away RS 1.3 lakh in cash, 19 tolas of gold and 40 tolas of silver. The cloths and other items kept for marriage of our girls were also taken away or burnt. The furniture was broken in to pieces", Pasha said.
Burnt and looted shops in Bhainsa
Both Tulja Bai and Pasha said that while the Hindus and Muslims in these parts of Bhainsa were living together for centuries with out any trouble, it was the people from other parts and outside who indulged in violence and attacks on houses and shops.
"I told the mob that they should do what they want to do in their own areas and not come to our area", said Tulja Bai. "Both our families have been living together for centuries. Osman calls me Khala and they are like our children", she said.
Tulja Bai was of the view that the communal trouble has become a regular occurrence in Bhainsa because of insistence of the organizers of Ganesh and Durga procession that they will sing and dance near the mosque and Muslims objecting to it. "There is no other reason for the trouble", she said.