In the current troubled times of violence against Muslims over gau raksha, a village in Punjab presents a shinning example of how members of the minority community tend to stray cows to keep alive a tradition that has continued from the pre-Partition days.
Nathowal village near Ludhiana has seen generations of Muslims look after cows, considered holy by Hindus.
The 50-odd Muslim families in the village, with a population of around 500, have formed a Muslim Intzamia committee to look after stray cows. The committee is responsible for feeding the cows and providing medical aid.
The community’s head, Mansa Khan, said, “We have been feeding the cows since the days I was child. Even our forefathers were doing this, Muslims live in this village before partition and practice of feeding cows goes back to those days.”
The 40 stray cows of the village are fed near the common land of the village where they are also provided drinking water.
Mr Khan said that if a cow falls sick, the members of the community call a doctor. Funds for looking after cows are generated by the community. “In winters cows are forced to stay in the open, however, we are now planning to make a shelter for them,” he said. The Nathowal village has a mixed population of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
“All three communities have been living in peace here from much before the Partition. During the Partition, 10 to 12 families from the village migrated to Pakistan but 50 families stayed back as our Sikh brothers didn’t allow them to leave. Today, our relations are very strong,” said Muhammad Hassan.
“We have uploaded the pictures of our community members on social networking sites like Facebook and WhatsApp so that people know that we share our Hindu and Sikh brothers’ love and respect for cows,” said Mr Hassan.
“We also wanted to give a strong message of communal harmony and peace. It should be seen in the light of our Hindu and Sikh brothers contributing food for our Iftihar during Ramzan,” he added.
The village also set an example on communal harmony when non-Muslims contributed for repairing a mosque six months ago.
“Of the Rs 25 lakh spent in the project, around Rs 15 lakh were contributed by Sikhs and Hindus. They also ferried bricks, cement and sand for the construction. Muslim and Hindu community members also contribute to kar seva at the gurdwara,” said Mr Hassan.
The majority Sikh community takes pride in the village’s communal peace. “Our village is more of a family. If a villager wants to donate money to a religious place he contributes equally to gurdwara and mosque,” said Pyara Singh, block committee member and president of Gurdwara Dharamshalla in the village.
“When we started work on the mosque, every villager pledged to help irrespective of his religion,” he said. The villagers take pride in their co-existence.
“There may be communal tension in any part of the country but this village has always been peaceful. The villagers have even planned to build a temple now,” said Bir Bhan, a prominent member of the Hindu community, vowing to uphold the spirit of communal harmony.
25 Jan 2021
26 Jan 2021