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Hindus form human chain around Muslim baraat in violence-hit Kanpur, escort them to safety | Kanpur News

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KANPUR: After a long time there was a wedding in the Khan family of Kanpur’s Bakarganj. Their 25-year-old daughter, Zeenat, was to tie the knot with Hasnain Farooquee from Pratapgarh. But on the morning of December 21, the groom called to say he didn’t know how to get his baraat to the curfew-hit area. There was violence and panic in the city and he was worried. Hours earlier, two youths had died in anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the vicinity and police and paramilitary had swooped down on the area. That made matters worse.

After the phone conversation with Hasnain ended, Zeenat’s paternal uncle Wajid Fazal turned to the family and wondered if the festivities should stop for the time being. The elders sat in a huddle. No one had any clue what to do next. Word spread and their neighbour Vimal Chapadiya heard of the Khans’ plight. He knew he had to do something. Chapadiya soon got along two friends, Somnath Tiwari and Neeraj Tiwari, and spoke to Hasnain. “Don’t worry,” he told the young man. “We will escort the baraat the entire time to ensure their safety.”

In the evening, 70 baraatis arrived at Bakarganj Chauraha in cars and a mini-bus. Once they stepped down, 50-odd Hindus led by Chapadiya formed a human chain around them and took them to the wedding venue, a km away.

Vimal Chapadiya (left) with bride's uncle

Vimal Chapadiya (left) with the bride’s uncle

“Vimal and his friends ensured that the baraat were fine. They even stayed back until the bidai (departure of the bride),” Fazal told TOI on Wednesday as Zeenat, who had returned to pay her family a visit, smiled. The first thing she did upon reaching her house was to go and look for ‘Vimal bhaiya’. She thanked him and sought his blessings for her married life.

“I didn’t get a wink of sleep in the days leading up to my marriage,” said Zeenat, who lost her father when she was 12. “A wedding scheduled in the area had been cancelled as the groom’s family refused to come since the situation was so tense. That morning, when my uncle received the call, I had given up all hope that my wedding would take place. Without Vimal bhaiya’s intervention, the baraat would not have reached here. He came like a farishta (angel) in my life.”

Chapadiya, who works as an administrator in a private school, said that he merely did what he felt was right. “I have seen Zeenat grow up. She is like my younger sister. How could I let her heart be broken? We are neighbours and I had to stand with the family in times of distress,” he said.

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