For the past two decades, whenever heavy rain or storms have broken the sharp, barbed concertina wires guarding the Ram Janmabhoomi perimeter in Ayodhya, the public works department (PWD) has sought Abdul Wahid’s help.
The 38-year-old welder, equipped with rusty arc welders, plasma cutters, gas and rods, helps to maintain the temple’s security — for Rs 250 per day and the joy he gets from the task he performs.
Sadiq Ali stitches kurtas, sadris (colloquial for jackets in Uttar Pradesh), pagdis and trousers. He takes special pride in stitching ‘vastra’ (clothes) for the “Ram lalla” (infant Ram) idol every few months on request from the head priest of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple. “God is one for all of us,” says Ali.
His friend, Mehboob, had first brought a three-phase motor that excavated underground water near Sita Kund for the community kitchen at Ram Janmabhoomi in 1995. Since then, Mehboob has been a regular feature at most temples in the town to look after electricity works. He also ensures that the site where the Ram Lalla idol is kept is lit up round-the-clock.
All three have an association with the temple that goes back decades. “I began working at the temple in 1994 when I was learning the ropes of electrical work from my father. I am an Indian and Hindus are my brothers. They bring wires and other material from Kanpur and I fit them. The work I do makes me proud,” Wahid told TOI.
He recalled when five LeT men drove a jeep into the security cordon and launched a grenade attack at the makeshift Ram temple in 2005. “Since then, I have been making barriers and repairing them outside the temple. Terrorism knows no religion. Like me, there are many CRPF and policemen who work round the clock,” added Wahid.
Ali told TOI, “For the last 50 years, my family, I and my son have been stitching clothes for Hindus, including priests and saints. I have been making sadris for all petitioners in the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute — right from the days of Ramchandra Das Paramhans till the recent heads of Hanumangarhi Temple or Kanak Bhawan’s Ramesh Das. But what gives me the greatest satisfaction is making satin outfits for Ram Lalla,” said Ali.
The 57-year-old’s shop — Babu Tailors — is on land that belongs to the Hanumangarhi temple and he pays Rs 70 as monthly rent to the temple.
The three often meet over tea or take long walks with priests along the banks of the Saryu river.
“We hope to see a continuation of the tradition of peace, worship and brotherhood at Ayodhya,” said Bansi Lal Maurya, who oversees the Ram Janmabhoomi site on behalf of the Faizabad commissioner.
Originally Published In The Times Of India