Two elderly Hindu sisters have donated four bigha of land (around 20,400 sq ft) for an Idgah in Uttarakhand's Rudrapur.
The land has been donated to in accordance with the wishes of their late father. "Both sisters donated the land as per their late father's wish. We have taken possession of the land and started constructing a boundary wall. It is a great act or gesture of these sisters in such an atmosphere when our country is reeling under communal frenzy," Haseen Khan, the head of the Kashipur area's Idgah committee said.
The Idgah will be located in Bailjudi village near a bridge over the river Dhela. The committee already holds around four acres of land there and around 20,000 Muslims performed namaz during Eid celebrations this week.
The sisters' father, the late Lala Brijnandan Prasad Rastogi, owned land adjacent to the Idgah site and was known to respect all religions. He wished to donate land and help foster a strong relationship between the Hindu and Muslim but died in 2003 before he could do so.
Before his death he distributed his land between his son and daughters; the land he wished to donate was part of his daughters' - Saroj and Anita Rastogi - share.
Today Saroj lives in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and Anita in Delhi, with their respective families.
On Sunday, 19 years after their father passed, the two arrived in Jaspur and contacted the Kashipur Idgah committee head to transfer the land after due process by revenue officials.
"We did nothing, only donated the land according to our father's wish. He was a big-hearted man and used to respect all religions. He also used to donate some amount to the Idgah committee every year for arrangements for performing namaz," Saroj Rastogi, 62, said.
"We have been performing namaz at the donated land for years. The Rastogi family itself used to make available the land for namaz after cleaning the land. Now, more people will perform namaz without any hurdle on the auspicious occasions," Khan said.
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"Though land rates are skyrocketing these days and location of land could have fetched a good price for us but after all, it was a matter of our father's wish. So we donated the land, respecting our father's wish and good-hearted gesture."
"We (the sisters) were discussing for a long time how to fulfil our father's wish. When both finally decided on a date and arrived in Kashipur", she added.
Haseen Khan said, "Both sisters and their families wished to install a stone slab on the boundary wall in the name of Lala ji for donating the land. We will install a stone slab according to their wishes."
"It is a great example of showing respect to other religions. Our community will never forget the Rastogi family's contribution. It will strengthen the communal harmony between the two religious' communities," said RD Khan, a social activist of Kashipur.
"Land donation was carried out as per our father's wish, I don't have to say anything in this regard. I respect my father's wish," said Rakesh Rastogi, brother of Saroj and Anita.