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Angels in disguise
By Obaid Nasir, Kanpur

Kanpur was in flames, humanity was crying, PAC jawans and goondas were busy in loot and arson. In such a trying time there were many angels of humanity who did their best to uphold human values even at the cost of their lives.These unknown champions of humanity have once again proved that hate could not overcome love and peace. During the riot that almost ripped apart the communal fabric of the city, such incidents soothed hearts filled with agony and shattered hopes and restored one's confidence in humanity and our ‘Indianness.’

‘I owe my life to Parvez. He was the only one who came between me and death,’ says Ramesh Dubey, a trader of Munnilal Street whose shop was burnt to ashes in communal frenzy. While goondas were baying for Dubey's blood, Parvez confronted them head on and saved Ramesh and his son and took them to his house.

Rajol’s case is much more peculiar. He was badly beaten up by rioters and was dragged into a narrow lane. All of a sudden the hearts of two rioters changed and the moment he was to be stabbed to death two rioters brought out their country-made pistols and threatened their comrades to spare Rajol or they will shoot them. In his own words ‘escaping death from Tikaniapurwa, I reached the interior of Dada Miyan Ka Hata. All of a sudden the rioters numbering about eleven dragged me into a by-lane. They were carrying kattas (country-made pistols) and knives. One of them hit me on the head and as he was about to plunge his knife into my chest, two others showed up and asked them to leave me. But they were adamant. All of a sudden both the youths brought out their pistols and fired at them. Seeing this the assailants fled. Later both of them dropped me at a safer place.’

Mr RS Chaurasia resides in the Muslim-dominated Makhania Bazar locality where people not only protected him and his family but even saved his place of worship. ‘With the love and affection we get here we may not even think of leaving this place ,’ he said with a voice full of emotions.

On Meston Road most shops belong to Hindus and the residents are mostly Muslims. These Muslims always rise to the occassion and save the shops of their Hindu brothers.. ‘You will wonder but the people guarded the area for three consecutive days despite witnessing pitched battle of the worst kind here.’
Hindus also did not lag behind in reciprocating the noble gesture. Residents of Kahu Kothi and Nayaganj locality saved a mosque from being burnt and protected the few shops belonging to Muslims in the locality. One Panditji confronted the rioters and saved the mosque and its mutawalli Saeed Anwar and sent him to Phoolbagh area for his safety.

In Nawab Saheb Ka Hata area people belonging to both the communities chased away the rioters, a tradition they started in 1992 after the Babri Masjid demolition. There are only eight Hindu families here but they are as safe as Muslims. ‘No one wants a riot except a few anti-social elements, so why should we strain our relations. My family never thought of changing residence,’ said a Hindu resident.

‘A temple in the middle of the Muslim locality of Bakonganj is safe and is standing there as the symbol of our secular ethos, communal harmony and amity. While more than one dozen mosques were put to flame, Muslim youths came out to protect this temple and kept a round-the-clock vigil so that anti-social elements may not harm it. The temple is a mute spectator of the tragedy that engulfed the city particularly this locality. Residents, however, did not lose patience and protected the temple for full five days, thus strengthening the bonds of friendship and brotherhood among both the communities. This one hundred-year-old temple is situated in the Mastan market area which was reduced to ashes by the rioters, say PAC jawans.
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