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This is India................

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    This is India................

    When Hindu, Muslims and Christians attack each other, demolish each others' places of worship, the newspapers spend a great deal of space and ink on large headlines. And what happens when a member of community actually builds a place of worship for that of the other? Nothing. Construction activity is boring while the cataclysm is always a big draw.

    This isn't a hypothetical situation. There is such a person. P Sugunakara Reddy. He's an unassuming businessman from a small village of Aragonda in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh.

    In Aragonda, a tiny village famous for its sugarcane and mangoes, Hindus and Muslims lived amicably and have had no trouble for as long as they can remember.

    Dr Pratap Reddy of Apollo Hospitals fame, who hails from the same village, still remembers his childhood.

    "Even when I was as a small boy, we used to go to our Muslim friends' houses and eat on Bakri Id. We used to go to our father's jatka drivers' house then... There was communal harmony then and I am proud to say it is there even now."

    "I don't find any difference between a Hindu and a Muslim. I believe that you are a human being first and your identity as a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian comes last. In our village, all of us, the Hindus and the Muslims live in a very friendly atmosphere. Still I felt if we, the Hindus who form the majority, took care of them, there would more harmony and more understanding," says Sugunakara Reddy.

    "We have had problems between Hindus and Muslims in many areas in our country and I do not want anything of that sort to happen in our village. It is true that so far we have had no problems; but I want everyone to live in the same peaceful atmosphere."

    With that objective in mind, Sugunakara Reddy told his friends of his desire to set up a mosque in Aragonda. Some of his Hindu friends were baffled, some horrified and yet some others, delighted.

    He told them that Hindus, who form the majority, have the moral responsibility to make the minorities feel safe. His Muslim friends were shocked first, but were certainly happy. Money started pouring in, most of it from Muslims, but also from several enthusiastic Hindus. Among them Dr Pratap Reddy.

    There were more Hindu architects and engineers involved in the construction work and the Muslims said Sugunakara was sent by god to help them, giving him the title 'Aptha Bandhu'.

    The Prince of Arcot, H H Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, who is also the founder and general secretary of Harmony India was the chief guest at the function where the mosque was opened. He was lavish in his praise of Sugunakara Reddy's efforts to bring about communal harmony in Aragonda and was peeved with the Indian press for not highlighting his work.

    Mary, a housewife who was disturbed by the recent attacks against Christians in India was delighted to hear about Sugunakara Reddy's work. "I wish there were more people like him in India. What is religion, after all? In life, it does not have a very important place. What is more important is love for other human beings..."

    Shihan Hussaini, famous karate expert was pleasantly surprised to hear the news. "A Hindu constructing a mosque? I am very, very happy to hear this. In one place so many Hindus united and demolished a mosque and that was shown to the whole world. And here in a small village, we have this one Hindu constructing a mosque for his Muslim brothers but nobody knows about it! This is what I call irony! I am proud that when people are being burnt, when religious institutions are being destroyed, one man has created something... What has happened in a small village is a big, big thing for our country as a whole."

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