COVID-19 in Maharashtra: Govt issues guidelines for Ramzan, appeals citizen to keep festive celebrations low-key

With the holy month of Ramzan starting from Wednesday, members of the Islamic community have said, in view of the pandemic still being around, they will be celebrating the month-long observance indoors instead of the customary public gatherings.

On Tuesday, the state government also released a set of guidelines, appealing to citizens to keep festive celebrations low-key.

Tahir Ahmed, the administrative officer of the Haji Ali Dargah Trust, said that in view of the ongoing pandemic, the entry and exit of devotees inside the mosque had been barred by the trust.

“All rituals will be held behind closed doors and no one other than the trustees and authorities will be allowed inside. We have also circulated the message that there will be no namaaz on the dargah premises throughout the month, for safety purposes,” Ahmed told The Free Press Journal. However, he said that devotees would be able to watch the rituals live on the official Facebook page of the dargah.

During Ramzan, it is customary for people to go shopping and attend public gatherings. But in view of the current scenario, public representatives have appealed to community leaders and traders in Muslim-dominated areas to adhere by the protocols issued by government.

Afreen Shaikh, Congress corporator from Dongri said that on Sunday, she had held a joint meeting with the local traders’ association and had appealed to them to not allow crowding outside their shops.

“We have requested the shopowners to keep their shops open on alternate days. We have also urged them to take orders over the phone and home-deliver goods, as this will help in crowd control,” said Shaikh.

On Monday, a video of a crowded Dongri and Bhindi Bazar area was doing the rounds on social media. Local civic officials however said that most people had come out for last-minute shopping, fearing a lockdown.

“Now that there is a chance of another lockdown, we are tightening the measures in our areas gradually. We have already had meetings with local traders’ bodies and have directed them to adapt crowd control policies,” said a senior civic official from B ward, which includes Dongri, Masjid Bunder and Bhindi Bazar and has a significant Muslim population.

State legislator and Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi has said that across Maharashtra, no mosque will allow public gatherings this year.

“There are more devotees visiting mosques during the month of Ramzan than in the rest of the year, which is why people must be extra cautious in this period,” Azmi told The Free Press Journal.

“We have ordered all shops and markets that are close to mosques to shut down and I am im constant touch with every religious organisation and trustees, monitoring the situation. People will cooperate with the government and follow the rules of the administration,” he said.

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Free Press Journal