Rain-hit Kodagu town exemplifies communal harmony

Suntikoppa: Symbolising the spirit of communal harmony in times of distress, this small town in Karnataka has turned its church, temple and madrasa, into relief camps to help flood victims in Kodagu district.

Many videos have gone viral depicting inhabitants of Suntikoppa in the rain-ravaged Kodagu district turning a Shiva temple, St Mary’s church and a madrasa, nearby one another, into relief camps in which around 600 affected people are sheltered.

Food was also being cooked in a common place at the community kitchen in the madrasa and being provided to the sheltered people in the temple and the church, residents said.

This act, testifying to the spirit of communal harmony, has prompted many leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, to lavish praise on Suntikoppa inhabitants.

In a tweet posted yesterday, Rahul said, “In Kodagu, Karnataka, massive floods have unleashed a trail of devastation. But amidst the gloom, here’s a great story about an oasis of hope, a small town, Suntikoppa, where Shiv, Ram, Christ, Allah and the Buddha are working together to help those in need. This is India!”

Speaking to the media, a priest at St Marys church said more than 200 marooned people have been accommodated in church premises.

“We have collected the details of flood victims staying with us. We will prepare a list and submit it to the state government for providing help to them,” he said.

Tibetan monks have also chipped in providing relief materials, including water. Bylakuppe in Kodagu district houses a large Tibetan settlement. Not far behind from the rest, RSS workers also have been actively participating in relief work.

The Sangh has formed volunteer groups helping set up relief camps and evacuating distressed people caught in the rain fury by constructing makeshift wooden pathways, videos of which also have gone viral on social media.

“We are providing food and helping people to reach relief camps set up in flood-hit areas of Kodagu. We are also evacuating people by braving flood water. It is a risky job,” RSS leader Rajesh Padmar said.

Even political parties are not far behind with BJP flagging off a convoy of over 15 truck loads of relief material collected and contributed by their workers.

Union minister and BJP leader Ananth Kumar said he would talk to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to request him to announce a relief package to the marooned.

“I will try my best to seek funds from the central government to rebuild destroyed homes and infrastructure,” he said.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Monday had urged the Centre to provide Rs 100 crore relief fund for Kodagu district.

On 19 August, Kumaraswamy conducted an aerial survey of flood-affected areas in Kodagu district. He had earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the families which were rendered homeless.