News from Nadia

Mosque Turned Into A Common Quarantine Centre For All Communities

The Mosque and the Madrasa hostel that turned into a quarantine centre for the migrant labourers

Kaliganj, June 6: While the migrant workers advised home quarantine being compelled to share their one-room residences with the other family members increasing the possibility of covid outbreak, residents of Bhaga village in Nadia’s Kaliganj, which include Muslim and Hindus have launched community quarantine centre at a mosque and adjacent hostel of a local Madrasa since last week.

Since May 21, the migrant workers who returned to Bhaga are being put by the residents into Bikarampur Darul Uloom Madrasa students’ hostel and its adjacent mosque, located at the outskirt of the village, which have been converted into a common quarantine centre for both Muslims and Hindus barricading the premises with the support of the Madrasa authorities.

Setting an example of communal harmony, the Bhaga villagers’’ committee till Saturday has accommodated 21 migrant workers of their village, who returned from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Punjab.

The committee has provided lights, fans arranging temporary power supply at the premise from a brick kiln and serving them drinking water, food five times a day, which includes three rice platters accompanied with egg, fish and chicken using funds from a corpus that the villagers maintain throughout the year.  The migrant workers are also provided with masks, sanitizers, and their daily needs like detergent, body soap, and other items and advised safe distance inside.

Family members only provided the bedroll, on condition that it will be burnt if their person tested positive and advised not to visit the quarantine centre until 2 weeks over.  

“We found that home quarantine advice is not possible to implement in our village. Most of the families here live in one-room residence. So quarantining a suspected Covid carrier at home in a common room with other family members may lead to a community outbreak. So when learned that migrated workers would return, Villagers became afraid as they learned that many such persons tested Covid positive. Eventually, we decided to approach the Madrasa authority to allow us to use its hostel and mosque as the common quarantine centre Hindus and Muslims living here. We are grateful as they instantly gave the nod. The district administration also gave necessary permission.” said Bhaga villagers’ committee president Mahiuddin Mondal.

Around 400 families live in Bhaga village under Kaliganj block, 155 km from Calcutta, of which around 80% are Muslim and 20% are Hindus. Over 100 residents of the village work in Maharashtra, Odisha, Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, and Rajasthan in construction, stone crusher, and garments industries. A section of them returned before the lockdown announced. Villagers became panicked when centre allowed homecoming of the migrant workers.

The brain behind the initiative, Rintu Mondal, assistant secretary of the villagers’ committee and WBSEDC worker, said, “We have seen in many places local residents did not allow their people to their home when they returned. We found it quite inhuman. How can we deny entry to our people? So I proposed to take their care through a collective effort keeping them at a place like the Madrasa hostel which is located at an isolated place”.

Dhananjay Karmakar, a member of the committee, said, “It was a great idea. In fact, there is no other best place available in our village than the madrasa and mosque premise to accommodate brothers returning from outside”.

Secretary of the committee Abdul Hannan Mondal said, “We told all the villagers to be united at this time of crisis. We assured the family members of the workers that the committee will take their care at its cost. So we have been incurring at least Rs.2000 regularly from our fund, which we developed selling fish from ponds owned by committee”.

Maulana Sharafat, headteacher of Madrasa said, “Religion teaches humanity and brotherhood. So when the villagers appealed for support in such Covid situation we instantly agreed”.

Ashish Hazra, a migrant worker said, “I have only one room to live. So when advised home quarantine I became afraid considering the fate of all family members. But, this initiative saved us all. I have no prejudice for staying inside a mosque”.

Kaliganj block development officer Nazir Hossain, who visited the quarantine centre in Bhaga on Friday said, “The villagers have taken up a great initiative. We have assured them all the necessary medical support. More such initiative may help to eradicate the prejudices about the disease among people”

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