While most of the states have already turned political making every issue a political one rather than choosing harmony to bring communities back together, this man named Sanjeev Pradhan belonging to Jat community wishes to bring back Muslim families who have fled the Dulheda village in UP after the deadly 2013 riots in the region.
His dream is to bring back those Muslim families back to the village situated in Shahpur of Muzaffarnagar’s region. He has already persuaded 30 families of 65 odd ones that have fled the village, TOI reported.
This man proved to be the savior of humanity during those riots period where he helped several Muslims by giving them shelter in his home and also guarding places where Muslims took refuge in those difficult times.
One of the villager’s who came back to the village after four years on persuasion of this 42-year-old man, said: “I remember how he and his men guarded our mosque. He wouldn’t let anyone touch it. He protected us with his life. If he says we should come back, I will trust him without thinking twice.”
While Mr Pradhan believes and judges people on their character and not religion.
“Mussalman kharab hai? Ya Hindu kharab hai? Insaan kharab hai (Is the Muslim bad, or is the Hindu bad? I will say it is the person who is bad). We need to fight and hope for change. I am only doing that,” Pradhan says.
Pradhan is a former village head who had faced loads of criticism of his community(who make up most of the population of the village) for “being an obstacle when an opportunity had come for ridding the village of Muslim influence forever.”
Another villager named Nawab Singh who supports Pradhan, says, “Sanjeev Pradhan lost the village head elections in 2015 and one of the primary reasons was his act of saving minority members’ lives in the riots. Some of the Hindus had even started greeting him with Salam-Alaikum in a sarcastic manner, claiming he was now almost a Muslim.”
Looking back, Pradhan says he wouldn’t have done a thing differently. “I vividly remember the day — September 8, 2013. We could hear gunshots in the distance and, later, it became quite evident that the carnage had begun.
Since most of the minority families and the lone mosque was near my house on the southern end of the village, we had started guarding their homes ever since the first murders were reported on August 27 in Kawal village, which triggered the riots.”
This village is located just at a kilometre away from Kutba village that has witnessed the killings of eight Muslims whereas his village Dulheda witnessed 62 deaths and the displacement of over 50,000 people from Muzaffarnagar district.
This amazing from a Jat family is indeed a savior of humanity who left no stone unturned to save his Muslim villagers from the communal fire that has engulfed the district.
Another resident Bala Bano also returned to the village at Pradhan’s insistence. Recalling those terrifying days, she says. “We were full of fear and uncertainty. If Pradhan hadn’t been there, we would not have survived.
When the situation started to deteriorate in the first week of September (2013), he called up our menfolk who were out of the village to immediately return and took us to the safety of his house, which was being guarded by his men. Even at night, he used to sit outside and keep vigil himself. We owe our lives to him.”
Afsana Begum also a resident who returned after four years on pradhan’s persuasion says he managed to arrange shelter for more than 300 Muslims and even escorted them to the Palhera and Shahpur relief camps.
“He wanted to come with us himself to the relief camps but we told him that could jeopardise his own safety. He, therefore, organised buggies to transport us to the camps. I remember we were extremely scared but his supporters, all Jats wielding arms, walked by our side throughout the way and ensured that nobody was harmed.”
And that is not all, Pradhan also made sure the cattle’s and houses of these Muslim villagers were also taken care of after they were moved to Shelters.
Sajid Ahmad, one of those who returned after staying in a relief camp for some time, says, “Muslim families in the village do not have big landholdings and mostly depend on cattle rearing. So, it was a big relief when we came back to find that our cattle were safe.”
Pradhan believes village society works on mutual trust and can function optimally only when people co-operate with each other.
“Muslims in the village are a big help to farmers like us. They help us during the cane harvest, build our houses and co-operate in so many other things. We are all dependent on each other and need to respect each other. I will keep trying to get them back home.”