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Dhaka Tribune

2nd phase of Ijtema draws devotees to the banks of Turag

Update : 15 Jan 2016, 08:05 PM

Hundreds of thousands of devotees from across the world thronged the banks of Turag River in Tongi yesterday to take part in the second phase of the annual Biswa Ijtema to pray and listen to Islamic scholars.

The first phase of the second largest Muslim congregation after Hajj took place last week at the same venue. It is being organised in two phases since 2011 after the number of participants increased.

Organisers said over 6,000 foreigners from 96 countries joined participants from 16 districts in Bangladesh in the second phase. Tens of thousands of people crammed trains, buses, and launches to reach the venue.

Devotees from 16 districts attended the first phase. Next year, participants from the remaining 32 districts will take part in the Ijtema. Those taking part in the second phase are from Dhaka, Jhenaidah, Jamalpur, Faridpur, Netrokona, Narsinghdi, Comilla, Kurigram, Rajshahi, Feni, Thakurgaon, Sunamganj, Bogra, Khulna, Chuadanga and Pirojpur.

About 12,000 RAB and police personnel had been deployed at the site with a five-tier security measure in place. RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed said preparations had been taken to tackle any untoward incident.

A brief power cut in the morning disrupted the monitoring system for about an hour but police said the load-shedding did not create any problems. Power officials declined comment.

The second phase started with senior cleric Maulana Abdur Rahman’s sermons in the morning. Although the sermon was in Urdu, interpreters translated the speech in other languages for the foreigners.

Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Huq, Zahid Ahsan Rasel MP, Gazipur City Corporation’s acting Mayor Asadur Rahman Kiron, and the district’s police chief Harun-or-Rashid joined hundreds of thousands of others in the Juma prayers at the Ijtema grounds.

Temporary health facilities had been set up to provide medical care to the participants. Four free medical camps had been installed at Monnunagar, Bata Gate and Atlas Honda Gate where over 100 doctors were working round the clock.

One of the organisers, Md Gias Uddin, said dowry-free marriages would not be held in the second phase as well due to its waning popularity. It is a special attraction of the congregation where marriages are held in absence of the bride.

He said only Tabligh supporters and Ijtema participants knew about the marriages but in some cases, relatives of the bridegrooms were not informed. “We’ve asked the interested people to register their names for dowry-free marriages and organise them at their localities,” he added.

Meanwhile, one Abdur Rahman, 60, from Bogra died of cardiac arrest early Friday. Nine devotees had died in the first phase, mostly of heart complications.

The first phase of this year’s Ijtema was held on January 8-10. The second phase of the 51st annual congregation will end on January 17 with the Akheri Munajat. 

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