80pc mosques in Punjab violate govt-Ulema agreement on Taraweeh: report

Published April 26, 2020
Mosques in Punjab and Islamabad did not follow four of 20 points in agreement regarding Covid-19 precautions. — AFP/File
Mosques in Punjab and Islamabad did not follow four of 20 points in agreement regarding Covid-19 precautions. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A survey has shown that more than 80pc of mosques in Punjab and the federal capital did not implement the agreement reached between the government and Ulema regarding the first Taraweeh congregations on Friday.

The survey, conducted by the Pattan Development Organisation, used a standardised checklist that consisted of four of the 20 points of the agreement.

These are that Taraweeh should not be conducted on roads and footpaths, there should be a six feet distance between worshippers on all four sides, people should not do ablution in mosques and they should wear face masks while coming to mosques.

As many as 40 observers were deployed to conduct the survey and each visited four to five mosques during Taraweeh prayers on April 24.

The report said: “Violation of the agreement is highly likely to continue in coming days unless the government takes stern action against the violators.”

Mosques in Punjab and Islamabad did not follow four of 20 points in agreement regarding Covid-19 precautions

The surveyors observed 194 mosques in 15 cities and towns and photographed the violations.

The data released by the NGO showed that in 96pc of the observed mosques people were found praying on pavements and roads and nearly 89pc of the worshippers did not wear face masks.

Besides, in 72pc and 69pc of the observed mosques, the worshippers did not maintain the 6ft distance and were found doing ablution in the mosques.

In the few mosques where some distance was maintained, this did not amount to 6ft. Photos clearly established massive violation of the important mitigation measure.

In more than two-thirds of the observed mosques, children were also found alongside their elders.

The observation was made in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Kamalia, Jhang, Layyah, Multan, Toba Tek Singh, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Taunsa, Shorkot, Kot Addu and Alipur.

The report said local administration and police warned khateebs and imams about the instructions, “but it appears that police did not bother to carry out the practice in remote areas and congested neighbourhoods.”

While the compliance level was better in bigger and central mosques mainly due to fears of surveillance, “this does not mean that these mosques are less likely to spread the virus,” said the NGO.

It has been suggested that with sufficient evidence available the government should make places of congregations safe for the citizens.

The report demanded the government and health authorities disinfect mosques on a daily basis as it was highly likely that the virus would be carried by worshippers to their homes and communities.

Pattan said the situation was very dangerous and 100pc implementation of the agreement was not possible.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2020

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