A mosque has remained afloat in a Ludhiana village sans Muslim population for over 70 years.
“It is a place of worship too,” say villagers, who have set an example of communal harmony by preventing demolition of the only mosque at Hedon Bet, 55 km from Ludhiana.
Village elders said the 50 Muslim families who lived at Hedon Bet had left for Pakistan during the Partition in 1947. No Muslim has lived there since then.
“The mosque has always been here. No one has ever talked of demolishing it. It is the house of God,” said Dhanwant Kaur, 95, who had come to the village from Sialkot.
Another villager, Bhagat Singh, 88, said the mosque was built in 1910-20. “This mosque and the one at Salana, 6 km from Hedon Bet, were built by the same mason. The Muslims used to pray here.” He said the village had never witnessed communal tension, not even during the Partition.
“The mason had written to Muslims here to come to Pakistan, saying they would be murdered here. While leaving Hedon Bet, one of my Muslim friends (Kutba) asked me to take his buffaloes. I started crying. It was a horrific time. I wish we don’t see anything like that again,” Bhagat Singh added.
WHO TAKES CARE OF THE MOSQUE?
In dire need of repair, the mosque is cleaned every day. A copy of Quran is also kept inside.
Prem Singh, who acts as its caretaker, said the mosque was endangered by a Pipal tree growing on its roof. “We cut its branches which had entered inside the structure,” he said.
He said some villagers donate rice and milk and prepare food at langar (community kitchen) every year in May.
“The houses surrounding the mosque were of Muslims. When people started living here after the Partition, no one cared for the mosque. All members of a family living in a house behind the mosque were afflicted with serious ailments. Many of them died and those who survived left the place,” said Prem Singh. The house he mentioned is now completely in ruins. There are many other houses also where no one lives now.
“It was some three years ago that villagers asked me to clean the place and light a diya (earthen lamp) every day. Now everything is fine,” Prem Singh said.
THE HOUSE OF GOD
Sarpanch Gurpal Singh said the mosque was in the periphery of Red Line (Lal Dora). The village has three temples and a gurdwara, apart from the mosque.
“The village has no Muslim population and people from other communities go to all the places of worship, including the mosque,” Gurpal Singh said.
Villagers said in a nearby village, a gurdwara was constructed after demolishing a mosque. “However, no one has ever talked of razing the mosque here as all believe it is a place of worship. How does it matter if no Muslim lives here? It is the house of God,” they said.
First Published: Jun 19, 2019 12:26 IST