The poor old widow of Sheikh Abdul was full of tears in her eyes! But this time her face had a glimpse of great satisfaction and contentment. The holy flames of havan in the backdrop of Shiva temple had ended her sorrow for ever. In the last leg of life, her human rights got a unique honour. Tarsem Bharti, president of All India SC and ST Mahasangh, washed her feet and Vedic rites were performed by a priest. After 55 years as a Muslim, she returned to her original faith. Her son, daughter-in- law and little granddaughter also came back to Hinduism with her. This way the sad tale of this family ended on a positive note.
The story of Santosh, mother of two, is quite pathetic. She never experienced her childhood. Originally hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Santosh, now 68, became an orphan at the age of 13. Her relatives did not take the responsibility to look after the child and sent her with one Sheikh Abdul of Delhi. Talking to Organiser, she said, ?I never knew that at the age of 13, I would get married and my husband would be a Muslim.? But one thing is notable that Sheikh Abdul did not give her a Muslim name and she could remain Santosh as her wife also.
She says, ?I passed my whole life with a Muslim man. As a human being he was a good person. But I always thought that the time would definitely come when I would get an opportunity to return to my original faith. Now I am grateful to Tarsem Bharti who in the last phase of my life made my dream true.?
About four decades ago she came to Shimla with her husband who worked as a waiter in some restaurants. The couple was blessed with one son and one daughter. Her son Pappu (34) said, ?When I was just in class 6th my father died in an accident. I remember I used to go to local Jama Masjid with him. But I had a special attraction for Hinduism like my mother. We wanted to become Hindu. But nobody helped us.? His mother had a very tough time after the death of Sheikh Abdul. Being an illiterate, she used to do petty work in the locality of Shoghi to earn livelihood for her and the two kids. Pappu did 12th and having remained unemployed for years; nowadays he is working in a school as a part time water carrier. His sister Asma is married in Punjab. He said local people were very kind and helpful.
Why they became Hindu, on this question, Pappu said, ?Every person is free to opt for any religion. Since my childhood my mother wanted to become a Hindu again. But she did not know how to change religion. I also had the same feeling. Now our dream is fulfilled.? This family lives in Anandpur near famous Taradevi Mandir near Shoghi in Shimla. The key role in this silent event was played by dalit human rights activist and BJP leader Tarsem Bharti. He said, ?My focus is always on the protection of human rights of those who are from weaker sections of the society. If that family was feeling uneasy as Muslim and wanted to reconvert, it had every right to do so. I only provided them an opportunity.? He also disclosed that he is in touch with several Muslim families in Solan and Bilaspur districts of Himachal Pradesh who are willing to come back to their original faith.
This very low profile event was witnessed by Shri Sriniwas Murthi, the Prant Pracharak, RSS, and few others. In February 2007, Tarsem Bharti was in the headlines when more than 150 dalit Christians returned to the fold of Hinduism. He had facilitated the reconversion of around 2600 Christian in this hill state.