– Mohammed Atherulla Shariff
Bengaluru, Dec. 4: If you happen to travel by a three-wheeler passenger autorickshaw here, you may come across just in front of your seat a book rack fixed behind the driver’s seat. Beautifully designed folders and leaflets will not go un-noticed by you. Just pick up any one of these; it may address some of the issues that might be pricking your mind. Maybe it is about the voice you hear five times a day from your local area Masjid, but you never knew about it. And some other common issues about a community in your neighborhood, Muslims, the leaflets have some relevant information for you.
It all started in 2011 with one auto which has now turned into a fleet of 65 carrying a very valuable information for the passengers. The Bangalore Islamic Foundation (BIFT), is the force behind this drive. The motive behind is to bridge the gap existing in people due to misinformation and propaganda about the religion of Islam and its followers. Right information leads to right understanding and may bring closeness.
Leaflets in English and Kannada are currently available in these autos which deal with topics like The Oneness of God, The Purpose of Life, The Truth about Jesus, The Quran, the Final Revelation to Mankind, Prophet Muhammad and many more.
There are mixed reactions and responses, says Rahim Khan, the in-charge of this task in BIFT. Some pass adverse remarks and many others appreciate the idea. The auto drivers try to deal with all kinds of passengers. After all, they have to carry the passengers to their destination regardless of the fact whether the passengers carry the message leading to their real destination or not.
However, these auto drivers are taught, to their understanding level, as to how to deal with the passengers in this regard. They are also briefed about the content of the leaflets, since most of them are not educated enough.
The BIFT also addresses other issues of the auto drivers like education and up-bringing of their children. Their health and economic issues are also dealt with to some extent. Those who work on daily wages were helped to own the auto rickshaws by providing to them interest-free loans, which they pay back in instalments promptly, said Rahim Khan.
The children of some auto drivers are studying in High School, PUC, Diploma, and Engineering by availing the scholarship from BIFT, according to Khan.