35-year-old Biswajit Rajak of Malda, West Bengal succumbed to liver cancer on Monday, 24 April.
Biswajit is survived by his old father, wife, and three daughters. Devastated with his passing away, his family had an additional concern: they were so poor that they could not afford the crematorium and assorted charges.
To the Rajaks’ aid came their neighbours – who were all Muslims. Not only did they help Biwajit’s family cremate him, they had also paid for his treatment and arranged to send him to a hospital in Kolkata before his unfortunate demise.
According to PTI, Muslim men arranged for Biswajit’s cremation, observing all rituals, including chanting of the name of gods, during the youth’s last journey to the burning ghat in Malda district.
The Muslim youth carried Biswajit’s body to the crematorium on a bamboo cot and even chanted the name of Hari (equivalent of Ram Naam Satya Hai), following the norms of Hindu tradition. They carried him on their shoulders for 3 km to the crematorium and then performed all the traditional Hindu rituals like remitting the ashes to the nearby river and taking a dip in the river after the cremation.
Malda is one of the most impoverished regions of West Bengal. Biswajit’s village, Sheikhpura, has a population of 6,000 and only two Hindu families. This also happens a year after the Malda riots, which ravaged the region in early 2016 and injured dozens of people.
“The common people are not really bothered. Helping a family in distress and chanting some Hindu names can’t take away my religion,” said Ayesh Ali, one of the villagers who helped perform the last rites, to Hindustan Times.
“Moulavi, Haji and hundreds of people from Muslim community arranged the last rites of Biswajit and they carried the body the entire way. This proves the exemplary brotherhood between the Hindus and Muslims in our country,” remarked the saha-sabhadhipati of the Malda zilla parishad, who went to the crematorium.