UP Mosque Imam Who Lost Job During Lockdown Hangs Himself by Ceiling Fan

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suicideImams and madrassa teachers are going through tough times but no one has time to care for them. They have always been underpaid. This lockdown broke them even further

Waquar Hasan | NEW DLEHI

The death by suicide of a Masjid Imam (prayer leader) in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district over austerity after he lost the job points to the deteriorating condition of masjid imams, muezzins (prayer call announcers) and madrassa teachers amid the pandemic.

The Shamli Imam’s suicide and his miserable financial condition are a matter of discussion on social media. According to the information made available by netizens, the deceased, Hafiz Waseem hailed from Gangeru village on the outskirts of Shamli. He was working as an imam in Chaprouli village of Bagpat. Waseem, who had six children, lost his job amid the national lockdown imposed by the Central government in view of Covid-19 scare. After losing his job, he was plunged into misery and extreme poverty. On Monday, he hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his home when his family members went out.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a strict lockdown in March, there was complete stop on all kinds of activities. Like schools, colleges and universities, madrasas and religious places were also closed down.

Maulana Sajid Qasmi, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’s leader of the Shamli unit, told Clarion India that Waseem was undergoing serious financial difficulties but he did not share his problems with anyone. He stayed home during this time. He was burdened with debt. As the situation deteriorated, he went into depression. He did not talk about his situation with anyone.

He further said that had Waseem shared his issues with someone, this unfortunate incident could have been prevented. Maulana Qasmi said the Jamiat had distributed food and ration to the imams and madrasa teachers when lockdown was announced. He said several imams and madrasa teachers started labour work and sold vegetables as were hit hard by the lockdown. “Many of them are surviving by seeking help from others,” he added.

Maulana Qasmi also threw light on the problems being face by the teachers employed by Madrasa Board, a state government body. “They did not get their salary in 2016 and 2017. They are distressed and facing deep crisis. Some of them even died by suicide. But the government is not paying any attention to them,” he said.

Mohammed Huzaifa, who hails from Bihar’s Araria, was working as an imam in a Delhi mosque. He lost his job during the lockdown. Currently, he is eking out a living by giving tuitions. He said that the situation of imams in Delhi was somehow better than other places. The situation of madrasa teachers is very bad. They don’t have any work. All madrasas are now closed down. Many madrasa pass-outs were desperately looking for work in different cities after madrasas closed down. Huzaifa said he knows some of them who are working as manual labourers in far off places like Bengaluru in South India.

Hafiz Shameem, who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Khatouli in Muzaffarnagar, said that the imams and madrasa teachers were going through tough times but no one has time to care for them. They have always been underpaid. This lockdown broke them even further. They are distressed but struggling to keep their head above water, he added.


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