India needs to emulate Asansol Imam’s tolerance: Bishop

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Panaji, April 3 : India needs to emulate the tolerant principles and the positive energy of Imam Imdadul Rashidi, who despite losing his 16-year-old son in communal violence in West Bengal’s Asansol district last week implored the mobs not to exact revenge, a top church official said here on Tuesday.

Secretary General of the Catholics Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, who is in Goa to announce the hosting of special event on Collective Action for Dialogue and Social Harmony in the coastal state on April 5, said Rashidi’s plea was aimed at creating positive energy across religions to thwart concerted efforts to create rifts in Indian society.

“Bihar is burning. Eleven to 12 districts are badly hit by communal violence. We are having problems in Bengal. That particular Imam (Rashidi) whose son was killed, newspapers say, practically saved India, because when his son was killed by a mob, he came out and pleaded with the crowd not to kill anybody,” Mascarenhas said.

“He even threatened his followers, ‘if you do any violence I will leave Asansol and go away’. That is the power of positive energy. People dispersed and what could have been sort of a bomb, a communal bomb, was diffused because one man decided that since I lost my son, I will not allow other sons and daughters to be lost,” the Bishop also said.

While the country has a long history of tolerance, “India also has a small germ, a small bacteria, which has been time and again bothering us in forms of riots, in forms of speaking divisions, spreading hatred.”

The conclave will include speakers from across faiths and is aimed at promoting tolerance, respect for each other and checking communal forces, Mascarenhas said.