A group of citizens -- or apolitical citizens of Kolkata as they call themselves -- have written an open letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioning why she permitted mass congregation during Eid-ul-Adha namaaz across the state on Saturday.
The letter mentions seven points including why people could not perform namaaz at home as it is not mandatory to visit the mosque. “Even though the namaazis were masked, they were standing virtually shoulder-to-shoulder (which means that no social distancing was observed in it’s true spirit),” reads the second point in the letter.
“Three, attending Eid namaaz at the masjid is preferred but it is not mandatory and the same could have been observed at home. Four, w permission of this nature serves as a dangerous precedent, which can open the floodgates for permissions to congregational religious acitivities of all kinds, potentially enhancing the risk of public infection," the letter adds.
Overall the letter points out that enforcing a complete lockdown for two days a week in August is meant to break the virus chain, but on the other hand congregation prayers with no social distancing increases the risk of spreading the virus. They called it a complete contradiction by the Chief Minister.
The letter ends with a request to not permit congregational prayers or worship as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is there.
The 28 signatories of the letter include Mudar Patheriya and artist Wasim Kapoor.
It must be mentioned however that Mamata did not permit Eid congregations in large numbers. Additionally, social distancing norms are in place as per government rules during the lockdown.
Eid prayers on Kolkata's Red Road, which takes place every year, did not occur this time due to the pandemic.
West Bengal has 2739 new cases as of Sunday and a total of 21,108 active cases with 1678 deaths reported.