The imam of a mosque in West Bengal’s Asansol on Thursday told a congregation that he would leave the mosque and town if there was any retaliation against his son’s death in Ram Navami-related violence, The Indian Express reported.

Sibtulla Rashidi, Imam Maulana Imdadul Rashidi’s son, went missing after communal clashes in Rail Par area on Tuesday. His body was found on Wednesday night and identified on Thursday.

It is suspected that Sibtulla Rashidi, a 16-year-old appearing for his Class 10 examinations, was beaten to death. “He was picked up by a group of miscreants,” the imam said. “My older son alerted the police, but he was made to wait at the police station. We were later informed that a body had been recovered by the police.”

On Thursday afternoon at the Eidgah Maidan, Rashidi appealed for peace. “I want peace. My boy has been taken away. I do not want any more families to lose their loved ones. I do not want any more houses to burn,” he said. “I have already told the gathering that I will leave Asansol if there is any kind of retaliation. I told them that if you love me, you will not raise a finger.”

Imam Rashidi said that it was important that he gave a message of peace to the people. “People of Asansol are not like this. This is a conspiracy,” he said.

Asansol Mayor Jitendra Tiwari said the imam’s message was instrumental in calming young people who were angry over Sibtulla Rashidi’s murder. “We are proud of him. Despite the pain he is suffering following the loss of a son, he appealed for peace,” he said.

“This is an example, not only for Bengal but for the entire country,” Mohammed Nasim Ansari, councillor of Ward 25 in Asansol said. “He is popular in the area. If he had not appealed for peace, Asansol would have been caught in a fire.”

Tension in Asansol

The police on Thursday stopped Union minister Babul Supriyo from visiting Asansol, which remains tense. Supriyo was also booked for violating prohibitory orders and assaulting a police officer.

BJP leader Locket Chatterjee and others were also stopped when they were on their way to Asansol from Durgapur. The party workers clashed with the police, and combat force had to deployed to bring the situation under control.

The Asansol-Raniganj area has been tense since clashes broke out on Monday. The police have issued prohibitory orders and arrested 18 people. The Centre on Wednesday sought a report from the West Bengal government on the violence during Ram Navami processions.