Azizpur, Bihar: As her village seethed with communal tension, Shail Devi, a frail widow in her early 50s, helped saved the lives of 10 Muslims.
On Sunday, a mob of more than 5,000 people from a neighbouring village attacked Shail Devi's village of Azizpur, where Muslims are in the majority. The violence was triggered because a young Hindu man had been abducted and killed. Four people were killed in the riots and about 25 houses set on fire.
"I provided shelter to my Muslim neighbours to save their lives because the mob could have killed them," Shail Devi said to news agency IANS. She said that along with her two daughters, she stood guard outside her house.
"I lied to rioters that I had not given shelter to Muslims in my house. Though some people tried to enter my house, I stopped them and they returned," she said.
Ash Mohammad, a man in his 60s, was one of the Muslims she hid in her home. "Shail was like a God-sent angel to us," he said.
Later, her neighbours warned that she could be punished by the rioters.
"I was so frightened that I along with my two daughters and a son took shelter in Mohammad's house. But, after the district administration persuaded me, I returned to my home," she said.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, met Shail Dev this morning and offered her praise and a cash reward of Rs 51,000.
The police has registered a case against 5,000 unidentified people and arrested 14 people for the communal violence.