Guwahati: Spreading the message of brotherhood and patriotism has been his prime motto in life. True to his words, even after his retirement, a septuagenarian former Indian Army officer in Guwahati, Assam has been serving the country, albeit in a different way.
While the faithfuls across the world were observing the holy month of Ramadan, Col (Retd) Ramendra Kumar Chaudhury, who retired in 1994, was offering Iftar to over 150 devotees every day. Chaudhury has been doing this for the past one decade.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims across the globe observe fast from dawn to dusk. The fast is broken with a meal called Iftar, but not everyone can afford a good and timely meal. That’s why ordinary people rise to the occasion and demonstrate the real spirit of Ramadan which is to give and serve the devotees.
Popularly known as Chaudhury Da in one of the busiest business districts of the Northeast, Fancy Bazar in Guwahati, this Hindu man has been selflessly serving food during the holy month and ensuring that everyone gets to eat a hearty meal at his restaurant, Chaudhury Cabin, at Iftar time.
“At a time when an effort is going on to divide the nation on the basis of religion, being a Hindu, he is doing a great job by offering Iftar. It’s a great example for society,” said a Muslim devotee who visits Chaudhury Cabin for Iftar almost regularly.
Shaukat Ali, a small-time businessman, said that whenever he has to visit Fancy Bazaar for shopping, he always makes it a point to have Iftar at Chaudhury Cabin. “Breaking the Ramadan fast is a time-specific process. So, whenever we visit Fancy Bazaar we always have Iftar here. Even though the owner of the restaurant is a Hindu, he is well behaved and provides a good environment for us for Iftar. It’s a great initiative on the part of our very own Chaudhury Da,” he added.
Chaudhury, who was posted in different borders of the country, was also the part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in 1987. A landmine expert of the Indian Army, Chaudhury was instrumental in rooting out anti-social activities, especially prostitution, in areas near Chaudhury Cabin way back in 1994.
“Soon after my retirement from the Army, I decided to join my father’s business, Choudhury Cabin, at the busy Fancy Bazaar area of Guwahati. However, at that time the area was dominated by various anti-social activities. We had to work really hard to remove all these and create a good environment for the masses,” Chaudhury said, adding: “It’s not about Hindus or Muslims. I try my level best to offer Iftar because it gives me immense pleasure to do so. I also feel that people come here and enjoy the environment.”
For the holy festival of Eid, Sayera Begum and Sehnaz Mumtaz were in Fancy Bazaar to buy various household goods, clothes, etc. As the Iftar timing was approaching, they visited Choudhury Cabin to break the fast on Monday.
“The owner of the restaurant is a very good human being. We have seen him performing this noble job for the past couple of years. It’s a great example of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood,” they said.
Uttam Chandra Nath, manager of Choudhury Cabin, said that they enjoy the atmosphere during Iftar. “The owner of the restaurant always tells us to serve Iftar to devotees with dignity, sincerity and religious fervour. For more than a decade, we are serving Iftar here,” he added.