Hyderabad: As the nation waits with bated breath for the Babri Masjid verdict, a Hyderabad-based mosque presented a rare picture of bonhomie on Friday. For the first time perhaps, the Masjid-e-Ishaq in the old city saw the head priest of Chilkur Balaji temple, CS Rangarajan, and Pastor B Srinivas of GION Church, visiting it. The duo along with city-based NGOs, Helping Hand Foundation (HHF) and Safa Baitul Maal, formed an inter-faith group to promote communal harmony, peace and trust through social support programmes run from places of worship.

Religious leaders came together on the first anniversary of the Community Health Centre set up at the Masjid in Nawab Saheb Kunta, an urban slum south of the Musi River. For the last one year, the Masjid-e-Ishaq has been extending healthcare facilities to people of all faith. A part of the open space in the mosque has been converted into a primary health centre by Mujtaba Hasan Askari of the HHF.

People inhabiting slums around the mosque are being rendered free medicare. The health centre is providing preventive, curative, palliative and referral facility — all free of cost. On average, about 100 to 150 patients make use of the facilities here every day. In a first, the Masjid loudspeaker is also being used to announce the availability of doctors and medicines at the health centre.

Askari feels that places of worship, be it a temple, church or mosque, should come forward to address the social needs of the community. The inter-faith forum formed today plans to take up community-based programmes in healthcare, women protection and empowerment and try to build mutual trust and respect. The HHF intends to set up health centres in temples and churches as well.

Rangarajan was impressed by activities taken up by HHF and said the core of all faiths was the same. Everyone breathed the same air, drank the same water and experienced joy and sorrow in the same way. “We need to coexist peacefully and support each other,” he remarked.

Later, Chilkur Balaji temple priest and Pastor Srinivas served food to needy children from the neighbouring slums.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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