The Times Of India
Sabina, 48, the wife of Mohammad Shabbir who has a curio shop at Chowrasta here, is famous in town for her mutton and beef biryanis. This is the first time she is cooking egg biryani because there’ll be no mutton or beef available in Darjeeling this Eid.
“We’ll offer namaz, greet each other and go home. We’ll forego all festivities since we can’t celebrate when everyone is engaged in the struggle for Gorkhaland. Since we support the demand for Gorkhaland, we won’t celebrate till statehood is achieved,” Darjeeling’s Anjuman-Islamia secretary Abdul Rashid Butt told TOI.
Leaders of the 104-year-old Anjuman-Islamia have informed Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung of their decision. “It will make no difference to us if we don’t have meat this Eid. This is a time for struggle for all of us. We’ve appealed to Muslims across India to pray during Ramzan and on Eid for the success of the statehood stir. We hope the collective prayers of our community will help achieve Gorkhaland,” said Anjuman-Islamia executive officer and general secretary of the Morcha Minority Front Ali Akhtar.
“Fruits are usually a must during iftar (breaking the daylong fast). But due to the shutdown, we’re doing without fruits. That hasn’t inconvenienced us in any manner. We’ve substituted fresh fruits with dates, boiled gram and other items. My wife has been looking up recipes for dishes that can be made with potatoes since other vegetables will not last till Friday. She will also cook something with paneer,” said Shabbir.
The only concession this couple and their three kids — sons Omar and Rashid and daughter Shagufta — are allowing themselves are new clothes. “We got them stitched a month ago,” said Shabbir, a regular in the Morcha’s rallies. But many others aren’t as lucky and will have to do without new clothes. “Some of my friends couldn’t get their salwar-suits stitched because of the bandh,” said Shagufta.
Anjuman-Islamia vice-president Amirul Hassan, whose grandfather settled in Darjeeling in 1937, told TOI: “We want Gorkhaland as much as anyone else since we’ll also benefit from a new state. Every Muslim here realizes this which is why the decision to forego Eid celebrations this year has found support from all.”
The Muslims’ presence in Darjeeling dates back to 1785 when the British brought some of them as cooks. Many of the Muslims here are third, fourth and even fifth-generation settlers. Most of them are now traders.