In violence-stricken Kanpur, Hindus establish a human chain around a Muslim baraat and convey them to safety.

After a lengthy absence, the Khan family of Kanpur’s Bakarganj celebrated a wedding. Zeenat, their 25-year-old daughter, was to marry Hasnain Farooquee of Pratapgarh. However, on the morning of December 21, the newlywed called to say he had no idea how to get his baraat to the area under curfew. In the city, there was violence and pandemonium, and he was concerned. Police and paramilitary forces descended upon the area hours after the deaths of two juveniles during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) demonstrations nearby. After the phone call with Hasnain concluded, Zeenata’s paternal uncle Wajid Fazal turned to the family and questioned whether the celebrations should be halted for the time being. The elders huddled together. No one knew what action to take next. Vimal Chapadiya, their neighbor, learned of the Khans’ plight as word spread. He knew he had to take action. Chapadiya quickly arrived with two companions, Somnath Tiwari and Neeraj Tiwari, and spoke with Hasnain. “Do not worry,” he reassured the young man. “We will escort the baraat the entire way to ensure their safety.” Seventy baraatis arrived in vehicles and a minibus at Bakarganj Chauraha in the evening. Once they descended, 50 or so Hindus led by Chapadiya formed a human chain around them and escorted them to the wedding venue, which was a kilometer away.Vimal Chapadiya (left) with the bride’s uncleaVimal and his companions made sure the baraat was in good shape. They stayed until the bidai (bride’s departure),a Fazal told TOI on Wednesday, as Zeenat, who had returned home to visit her family, beamed. She immediately went in search of aVimal bhaiyaa upon entering her residence. She thanked him and asked for his blessings on her married life. “I did not get a wink of sleep in the days leading up to my wedding,” said Zeenat, whose father died when she was 12 years old. “A wedding in the area was canceled because the groom’s family refused to attend because of the tense situation. When my uncle received the call that morning, I had already given up hope that my wedding would take place. Without Vimal bhaiya’s intervention, the procession would not have reached this location. Chapadiya, who works as an administrator at a private school, stated that he simply did what he believed to be correct. a€œI have seen Zeenat grow up. She is similar to my little sibling. How could I allow her heartbreak? We are neighbors, so I had to support the family in their time of need,” he said.

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