The gem named Maniktext_fields
It is not uncommon for someone to volunteer to rescue their fellow beings in danger; it is quite a natural instinct of humans as of many other species. There are rare exceptions like the car passengers who refused to take the students from the site of an accident the other day in Vadakancherry, Kerala to the hospital. However, recently the rescue made by a welding worker in West Bengal stood out in the local media and also hit headlines in the leading English newspaper 'The Telegraph' published from Kolkata. Many of Malayalam media, whose wont it is to copy and and paraphrase the violence-accident news from other states, missed this incident. It merits reproduction: on October 5, during the idol immersion ceremony as part of the Durga Puja celebration, there was a flash flood in the river Mal in Jalpaigudi district and many people were swept away. Mohammad Manik, a 28-year-old man who had come to watch the festivities, lost no time in plunging into the river while hundreds of people who had gathered in the riverside were watching stunned and bewildered. That jump eventually saved the lives of 10 people including three children and three women. Eight other people, however lost their lives in the river disaster.
Mohammad said that he was prompted to take the plunge when he saw a baby caught in the current, which instantly reminded him of his own son; he later felt that had it not been for the injury in his leg during the two-hour rescue operation, he could have saved a few more lives. It was part of his childhood habit to visit the pooja pandals on the banks of the Mal river which led to his rescuing the people who were caught in an unexpected calamity. It was only after many others followed Manik, like local youths Muhammad Sariful, Faridul Islamka, Tafeedul Islamra, Pintu Shaikh, Sachin Naik, David Oron and Raj Oron in saving many lives that even the fire brigade and National Disaster Response Force team entered the picture and intensified the rescue operation. The Hindutva and Parivar outfits in all their strongholds had imposed strict ban on entry of Muslims to Navratri festivals. Slogans of hate were raised and violence against a mosque happened during the procession, including in Karnataka. There was also a call to keep away and boycott those who traditionally did business near temples. Some of the Hindutva leaders even suggested that if they wanted to participate in the festivities, they could do so after ghar vapasi (home-coming) and getting pure. Observers rightly remarked that the tragedy in Mal river would have taken many more lives if those like Manik had not been let in to the city, as asked in the call of the communal leaders.
In the long too distant past, the festive season was a time for people to come to know each other and get closer. They were days for adding to the joys and avoiding the sorrows of neighbours, colleagues and fellow human beings. In a short period of time, all that changed and barbed fences of taboos and prohibitions arose around us without even our knowing it. People are already made to face more than enough sufferings due to natural calamities, epidemics, climate change and political insecurity. On top of that come the fiats by communal exploiters and the conflicts they create. The consolation is that the Bengal Durga Puja celebration committee did not impose any such bans. It comes as a silver line in the dark, when Mohammad Mani and other youngsters who followed him plunged for the rescue act, thus further brightening our faith in humanity in a terrifying time.