A few years ago, I was on a no-money walking pilgrimage. We had to hunt for host families for a night stay during our walk. And, this man came like an oasis in the desert because that day we couldn’t find one.
I don’t know the divine messenger who told him about our peace pilgrimage but he invited us to rest in his tribal village. The word TRIBAL made me super excited because I’d never been hosted by one. Anyway, we marched towards the address he gave, and after a long walk; we reached the base of his tribal village; Khatisitra.
The village is in the north of Gujarat, India. It’s a pristine tribal village inside Balaram-Ambaji Wildlife Sanctuary and not even on the map of India. We heard all good things on the way but the village was not on the base, it was a two hours trek from the base. It was an extremely difficult trek to the village but we somehow made it; of course, with the help of our guide who was a young child with no footwear on him.
Finally, we reached there and met Mustukhan Sukh who welcomed us in a tribal way. There were songs, flower garlands, and rituals as per Hindu tribal customs. We were overwhelmed by this warm welcome. By this time, he had already won our hearts. Anyway, the day was all about food and sleep but as the stars showed up, he gifted us with a nice bonfire. This is the time we came to know the real him.
He has done his graduation in rural studies and post-graduation in social service. He always wanted to serve the rural community and at the young age of around 25, when most of the youth are busy thinking to either go abroad or earn lots of money and fame, he left his home to work for the rural population of his state — Gujarat. He came to this area and adopted this village and started his journey to serve these tribes.
At the start, he wasn’t welcomed because people thought that he is one of those people that comes there to do nothing or destroy their peace. They condemned his stay. But, he was very clear. He wanted to open a school there and work for medical assistance. Even the forest department threatened him several times because of his home school he started inside the forest. But, he was all determined to serve selflessly.
There were many instances of quarrels but one day there was a medical urgency where he was of big help to the villagers and this marked his victory in their hearts. He put his life in trouble to support a delivery case and saved both the mother and child. This made him a hero overnight plus almost two years of hard work.
Now, he’s the official village mentor and has been given land by the tribal head to run his home and a school. There was no education in the area and now, 60 students attend school to learn primary education.
He, along with his wife Mumtaz, serves the tribal village and has written their life to the service of this village. The forest department is now supporting him and encouraging more such work in the area. Not only this, but he has also started eco-tourism in his tribal village to make the community self-reliable and lift them economically and socially.
What a wonderful contrast! In a world where our country is seeing terrible hatred between two communities, especially Hindu and Muslim, we see a Muslim man serving 100 Hindu families. In a world where there’s growing hatred for the Muslim community and they are being targeted as terrorists, there’s this man who has given up all his luxuries of life and sitting deep in the forest and doing the work that Indian government and all of us should have done.
One community cannot be terrorist, maybe a few of them but not all. We need to change our mindset and understand the real meaning of terrorism and people associated with it. Muslims — the real ones — around the globe are doing awesome work and Mustukhan is the best example I have come across in India.
Salute to this unsung hero and please visit this beautiful pristine tribal village once in your life!