These Muslims from UP performed last rites of Hindus who died of Covid-19, setting example of harmony

A Muslim man performing last rites of a Hindu | Picture by arrangement

As the second wave of coronavirus is creating havoc across the country, stories of tragic loss have been far too frequent. What is lost in the stories of the tragedy are bigger stories of love and compassion between India’s two biggest communities – Hindus and Muslims. This is one such story of Muslims from Uttar Pradesh performing last rites, helping with funerals of Hindus who died due to Covid-19. 

Aas Mohammad Kaif,

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Uttar Pradesh: The second wave of coronavirus has caused havoc across the country. Dead bodies pile up every day at crematoriums and cemeteries. Both state governments and Central government are facing severe criticism for the oxygen crisis and the lack of availability of beds in hospitals, with distress calls for help making rounds on social media. 

While the government releases data on the number of cases and deaths due to Covid-19 every day, it doesn’t paint the picture of grief and pain common citizens of the country are going through. Even family members and relatives are seen keeping a distance from the deceased. 

In this hour of collective tragedy, stories of compassion and love often don’t get told. received reports from many places where people, especially from the Muslim community, played a leading role in performing the last rites of Hindus who fell victim to Covid-19. 

One such case is from the Bijnor district of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. 

Rajiv Chaudhary’s family lives in Kiratpur town of Bijnor district. His younger brother Chiranjeev Chaudhary passed away on April 23 due to Covid. Even though Rajiv Chaudhary runs a hospital, he could not save his brother. 

Rajiv told that his brother was admitted to a hospital in Kiratpur earlier due to an infection in the kidneys. 

Rajiv alleged that as his brother’s health condition worsened, the hospital put up its hands and suspected him of being infected with Covid-19 but “could not officially confirm it.”

“We did whatever we could, but nothing happened. We couldn’t save him. They just handed over the dead body of my brother to us,” he said remorsefully. 

Rajiv said he was feeling helpless, till his Muslim friend Hassan Ali came to his rescue. 

“It was just me and Hassan who stood near my brother’s funeral pyre near the Ganges. My aged father and nephew were standing at some distance. Some close relatives stood far from the funeral,” he said. 

Rajiv said that all this while when he was experiencing grief it was Hassan who stood close to him. “He (Hassan) was fully involved with the funeral rites of my brother. He stood next to me and assured me that he stands with me in every difficulty that I face,” he said. 

Rajiv said that no amount of hate can divide him and his friend Hassan.

“We understand everything. Today when Rajiv Chaudhary was in trouble, Hassan Ali was standing with him. This is what I want to tell the world,” Rajiv said. 

Hassan Ali and Rajiv Chaudhary

Hasan Ali hails from the Kazipada area of Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. 

Talking to, Hassan Ali said that, “Rajiv is his friend and during his toughest time, if I could not stand with him, then friendship has no meaning”. 

Hasan said that while, “death has to come for everyone, but in crisis, we do not have to leave each other.”

Commenting on the issue, Congress leader Tariq Siddiqui of Lucknow told that, “One receives such news of bonhomie and love from all across the country. I have myself been witness to this.” 

In another instance of members of the Muslim community lending a helping hand to Hindus, a few weeks ago, a woman named Maya Devi from Lucknow died due to Covid. As both her son and daughter-in-law were admitted to the hospital battling Covid-19, there was no one else in the family to perform her last rites. 

Hearing this, three Muslim youth Zeeshan, Mehdi and Abid Raza not only shouldered her pyre but also performed the last rites according to the religious tradition of Maya Devi.  

Nadir Rana of Muzaffarnagar talked to about an incident of brotherhood and love between the two communities from his area. “A young man named Anubhav Sharma who used to run a dairy shop died here recently. Although his Covid report was negative, only five people of the family were allowed to attend his funeral. Mohammad Yunus also worked with Anubhav in the latter’s shop. He (Yunus) had a lot of affinity with Anubhav. He attended his last rites and did all the necessary tasks,” he said. 

Muslims helping in last rites of a Hindu | Picture by arrangement

“On being asked about it, Yunus would say that Anubhav was like his brother and said although they belonged to two different religions but maintained that the relationship of the heart is bigger than this and he did what his heart told him,” Rana added. 

Such cases of bonhomie between Hindus and Muslims were also reported from Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Alwar in Rajasthan. In the national capital New Delhi, there have been reports of cases of shouldering of pyres of Hindus by Muslims.

Rajiv, who lost his brother to Covid-19, said that, “It is politics which creates hatred.” 

“We (the two communities) were never far from each other. Now during this crisis as people, as death has become rampant, people from both communities are helping each other. This is good. The crisis we are facing is big and we must help each other,” he added. 

People like Rajiv and Hassan have set an example of love and warmth by teaching lessons to those who spread hate.