Mahesh Trivedi | Clarion India
THE sterling yeoman’s service rendered silently by bleeding-heart Muslim citizens and selfless organisations of the minority community during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left everyone dumbstruck in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
In a Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state where the six-million-odd Muslims are looked down upon by hatemongers among Hindus, charitable doctors, businessmen, executives, social workers and even humble rickshaw-drivers have turned Good Samaritans and hit the streets to do their damnedest for soothing people’s frazzled nerves even as the number of coronavirus positive cases shot up to a record 15,575 with the death roll zooming to 960 on May 29.
In a first, youngsters from Muslim mohallas in Vadodara, Gujarat’s cultural capital, blazed a new trail by donating blood on the day of recent Eid al-Fitr to express solidarity with the country fighting the killer coronavirus disease (COVID), thanks to the efforts of Zuber Gopalani, a reputed educationist and an eager beaver at that.
After an SOS from the local administration that the three main blood banks had run dry, Gopalani, along with his colleague, Dr Muhammed Husain, an HIV specialist, went round the city with a clarion call to the residents of several areas to rise to the occasion for meeting the acute shortage of the vital fluid.
The result was that a number of volunteers sacrificed their all-important festivities and thronged the makeshift blood donation camps quickly organised in Muslim colonies.
“Let us celebrate Eid by gifting our blood to save lives. This was the slogan of our campaign. As many as 300 bottles of blood were collected within a few hours,” Gopalani, a popular community leader and businessman, told Clarion India.
Indeed, the dedicated duo, who is at the helm of the Baroda Muslim Doctors’ Association, was also instrumental in converting the Ebrahim Bawany ITI Hostel in Vadodara into an ideal COVID care centre which has won praise from a visiting expert group from the central government because, for the first time in India, as many as 45 COVID patients were completely cured within 10 days and discharged together from one single isolation facility.
At a time when most of the educational institutions refused to oblige the hard-pressed Vododara municipal corporation by housing COVID patients on their empty, spacious premises, Mufti Aarif Hakim Falahi, principal and managing trustee of the Darul Uloom at Tandalja in the town, did not think twice before turning the hallowed house of knowledge into a 198-bed COVID care centre.
On May 29, most of the 45 serious Level-3 patients recuperating at the boundless Islamic seminary were Hindus, including ailing doctors and nurses, all of whom were regularly being given springfresh fruits, dry fruits, milk, biscuits, etc. what with a fridge also being kept at their disposal.
In Dahod city in central Gujarat, while almost all medicos kept their clinics closed fearing the deadly viral infection, Dr Mohammed Dohadwala, a diabetologist, decided that the ‘show must go on’. He and his 67-year-old father Dr Kaizar, a senior consultant physician, never stopped their services after formulating a foolproof strategy for the safety of staff and patients, and even devised a video consultation platform in their well-equipped centre for their outstation patients.
What’s more, conscious of their social responsibility in these tough times, the golden-hearted Dohadwalas took the help of a local NGO to distribute special kits of daily essentials among migrating labourers, penniless workers and other needy families in the city.
In Ahmedabad, businessman Mohammed Sharif Kakuwala has made sure that those who die of coronavirus infection are given a respectable burial. Finding that the body taken to a burial ground was lowered up to two feet only and then literally dumped into the special 10-feet pit used for COVID victims, he dreamed up a durable stretcher with six 15-feet-long straps so that the deceased person is placed at the bottom of the grave with dignity.
Kakuwala, who runs a popular snacks chain in the city, has spent a fortune to ready some 110 such new-fangled stretchers that can carry bodies weighing up to 200 kg, and gifted them to local cemeteries.
“Relatives of the dead are already grief-stricken. If the mourners see their dear ones being carelessly dropped into the deeper-than-usual COVID pit, it will be a double whammy for them. So, I discussed with my tailor and thought of the novel stretcher to do my bit in this crisis,” explained Kakuwala.
Even as Ahmedabad sizzled at 44 degrees Celsius, two autorickshaw drivers, Majhar Rangwala and his friend Mustafa, volunteered to ferry Hindu and Muslim COVID patients gratis between their homes and hospitals, also giving them a motivational pep talk on the way.
The two even devoted several hours to help an NGO, Janvikas, in packing, carrying and distributing ration kits to the needy during the lockdown and in the process even were down with COVID but luckily recovered after ten days only to continue with their humanitarian services without expecting any reward.
More power to their elbow!