New Delhi: Amid the nationwide lockdown due to the Covid-19 crisis, Shab-e-Barat (blessed night) celebrations Wednesday night have been prohibited across the country, and all state police have been asked to strictly enforce orders to not allow any congregation.
Although all state police have made adequate arrangements to ensure that law and order is maintained, Muslim community leaders have also come on board and appealed to the people to observe Shab-e-Barat at home, and pray indoors.
Some have also gone as far as to say that those who violate orders and come out of their homes must be arrested.
Muslim leaders’ appeals
Zafarul Islam Khan, chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, told ThePrint that Muslims across the country will follow government orders to stay indoors, as it is their “collective moral responsibility”.
“A joint appeal by the entire Muslim leadership was made to the people saying that due to the Covid-19 situation, no one should come out of their homes at night,” Khan said.
“It is a night-long festival where people go to the graveyards and mosques to pray for their departed loved ones. But this time they have been asked to read the Quran and pray from their homes. It has been communicated that it is for their own safety, and they must obey the orders,” he said.
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“This is a nationwide call that all Muslims must stay indoors and all organisations in Delhi, Karnataka, Mumbai, West Bengal and other states, too have spread the message,” he added.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani too appealed to the members of Muslim community to observe the festival at home.
“Worshipping all night can be done at home in a better environment. Visiting graveyards is not needed on every Shab-e-Barat,” Madani said.
“Even in normal times, getting out of the house, making noise and creating chaos on the road late at night are not only against teachings of Islam, but also a violation of law. In the current Covid-19 crisis, such activities are wrong and could be a big crime,” he said.
“One should abide by all the guidelines given in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, and maintain social distance for the safety of people.”
Imams of mosques, local influential persons and office-bearers of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind units have also been advised to engage with youngsters and tell them to not roam around on vehicles or bursting crackers.
“People have been asked to pray from home and seek Allah’s forgiveness with passionate dua and repentance, and pray especially for the well-being of the country, and offer special prayers that our country gets rid of this deadly virus,” Madani said.
In Kashmir, too, Srinagar district magistrate Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary issued an order prohibiting all sorts of religious congregations and public movement on Shab-e-Barat.
Extensive patrolling, deployment
All state police have also been asked to carry out extensive night patrolling and ensure proper deployment to so that no congregation takes place.
“We are now extra cautious after the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi that became a major vector of the disease. We have been instructed to not let any congregation happen at any religious place. Since today is Shab-e-Barat, all our manpower will be on the ground,” a Delhi Police source said.
“Extensive patrolling will be carried out, deployment near mosques and graveyards has been increased, all police stations have been asked to be extra vigilant to ensure no one leaves their home at night,” the source said.
Police officers also held meetings with Muslim community leaders across states.
“In order to convince the people, we held detailed meetings with Muslim leaders and asked them to communicate and convince people to not leave their homes. All the leaders were on board and issued directions accordingly,” another Delhi Police source said.
In Delhi, the police have pasted posters across pockets with heavy Muslim populations, and are also making regular announcements, urging people to remain indoors and pray from home.
“We will make sure that no one steps out of their homes,” the second source said.
‘Arrest those who violate rules’
Khan said anyone who violates the order to remain indoors be arrested and punished.
“We have extended our full support to the police and the government. We have told the police that they must take strict action against any person who violates the orders by stepping out of his home to celebrate. We will not be against such a move; this is a collective decision of the entire Muslim community,” Khan said.
The police also said they have been given clear instructions to take action against anyone seen violating orders.
“We will register a case and take action against anyone who attempts to step out and congregate. No one will be allowed to come out, either on their bikes or foot,” a senior Delhi Police officer said.
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