Two Hindu sisters from northern India have donated land worth millions of rupees for a Muslim prayer ground to fulfil their father’s last wish.
Anita Rastogi, 62 and Saroj Rastogi, 57 donated 2.1 acres of ancestral land worth 20 million rupees ($261,000) to be used as an Eidgah — an outside area designated for prayer — in Kashipur in Uttarakhand state ahead of Tuesday's Eid festival.
Their father, farmer Lala Brajnandan Rastogi, died in 2003 aged 80. He wanted to donate the piece of land to the Muslim community but never told his daughters directly, who later inherited the land.
But the two sisters came to know about the wish and decided to donate the land.
Rastogi had amicable relations with the Muslim community in the area and throughout his life worked for communal harmony.
The sisters and their brother Rakesh Rastogi on Sunday completed all the formalities and transferred the land. On Tuesday, hundreds of Muslims offered Eid prayers there.
“My father was a strong believer in communal harmony. He wished to donate the land to the Eidgah so that it could accommodate more people for namaz on festivals such as Eid. My sisters honoured his wish,” Rakesh Rastogi told a local newspaper.
The heart-warming gesture comes at a time when the country is experiencing heightened sectarian tensions amid allegations that Muslims are being targeted for their faith.
“Mr Rastogi and my father were good friends for 50 years. Even after their death, we have maintained family relations. This is a remarkable gesture and we thank them for their belief in brotherhood,” Haseen Khan, head of the Kashipur area's Eidgah committee, told The National.
In March, a Muslim man donated land worth 25 million rupees ($33,000) for the construction of a Hindu temple — touted as the world's tallest religious monument — in eastern Bihar state.