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Mohammad Amir born Muslim, raised by Hindus as Aman, spotlights on India’s age-old syncretic tradition

Mohammad Amir with his foster family (Pic: Courtesy etvbharat.com)

Scenes and situations depicting pluralism, tolerance and love for an unknown child in movies chokes the audience but it is possible in real life too!

A startling example is that of Mohammad Amir who was in the foster care of a Hindu family before getting reunited with his Muslim biological parents last month on June 30. He returned to celebrate his foster mother’s birthday on June 12 (Monday) along with his foster siblings, Mohit (28) and Gunjan (25), before returning to Jabalpur again.

The situation described above seems straight out of the 1971 super hit Hindi film Chhoti Bahu starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. And the ever popular bhajan in the film, Hey Re Kanhaiya, Kis Ko Kahega Tu Maiyya, emotionally rendered by Kishore Kumar sums up the whole story.

Missing from home

According to a despatch in The Indian Express, the 19-year-old Amir travelled on Sunday 300 kilometres from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to Nagpur to keep his promise to his mummy. He travelled on a bike with his biological father, Mohammad Ayub.

For nearly seven years Amir was in care of his foster parents Damles, a Hindu family. Challenged mentally Amir had been missing from Jabalpur, his hometown and in 2012 he found himself in Nagpur station.

The police were unable to trace the whereabouts of his parents or his home and Amir, then eight-year-old could not help them much, so he was sent to the Government childcare home in Nagpur. Soon he moved to the home run Samarth Damle, which shut down later. While the residents of the home were sent back to their parents or relatives, Amir was left alone, so Damle and his wife Lakshmi, displaying magnanimity of heart took the decision to keep him

Aadhar comes to rescue!

While initially Aadhar card which was criticised by many came as a saviour for Amir. In an effort to obtain the card for Amir — who had been named as Aman Suresh Dhanagare — for his SSC examination, it was revealed that his real and true identity was Mohammad Amir.

Damles, even though shocked with the news, did not flinch from their moral duty and they communicated with Ayub Khan and Mehrunnisa, biological father and mother. Soon the two families met, and the Damle couple handed Amir over to his biological father, Ayub Khan, and Mehrunnisa.

Emotional turbulence

Recalling those difficult times, the 54-year-old Samarth Damle told IE: “He has lived with us for seven years. When I tried getting his Aadhaar card, I failed. So, I went to the main Aadhaar Seva Kendra, where the manager, Anil Marathe, made a detailed search about why the system was not accepting Aman’s Aadhaar request. Marathe finally found out that Aman’s Aadhaar card was already registered under the name Mohammad Amir, and that he belonged to Jabalpur.”


Accepting that the news came as a blow from the blue, Damle said: “Marathe advised us to restore the boy to this family. Despite emotional attachment, we contacted the family that Marathe helped us track down. Aman’s parents, Ayub Khan and Mehrunnisa, came to meet us on June 28. Aman, however, did not recognise them and refused to go with them. But a day later, he said he was able to recollect his Abbu’s memory. So we informed the Khans again, and they returned on June 30 to take their son back home.”

In a choked voice he added: “It is difficult to express in words what a big emotional blow it was for us. We were not at all inclined to give him away, but had to reconcile with reality.”

It was equally traumatic for the foster mother, Lakshmi. She told IE: “I couldn’t stop crying when he left. Even on Monday, when he came to celebrate my birthday, we all cried when he left for Jabalpur.”

For Aman too it was emotional leaving his foster parents. Unfortunately, he couldn’t say so. ““He appeared overwhelmed but didn’t cry. He is not mentally equipped to properly express his feelings,” said Lakshmi.

Amir’s real father, Khan expressing his gratitude said: “I can’t thank the Damle family enough for taking care of my lost son like their own. We had lost all hope. But somewhere in my heart, I knew I might see him again.”

Even though happy to be with his parents, Aman did disclose that he will miss his foster family to ETV Bharat.