RAWALPINDI: Following implementation of 20-point guidelines regarding safety measures against the spread of Covid-19, a report on 250 sensitive mosques and imambargahs in the Rawalpindi division has found flaws in majority of the worship places, including security deficiencies.
The government had allowed congregational prayers in mosques during Ramazan under the guidelines which had to be followed in the mosques as a part of precautionary measures against the coronavirus. But an audit team found many rules, including security measures, being violated during Taraweeh at many places.
On the other hand, the Rawalpindi district police served 460 notices on the administrations of the mosques for violating the 20-point guidelines.
A spokesman for Regional Police Officer (RPO) Sohail Habib Tajik told Dawn that rules of social distancing and use of sanitisers and wearing face masks were being observed but sometimes complaints regarding violating the guidelines were received from rural areas.
Mostly, the complaints were regarding presence of people aged over 50 years and children in the mosques.
In Rawalpindi division, 250 mosques/imambargahs had been declared sensitive and categorised as A, B and C due to their vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus. Of these, 61 are located in Rawalpindi district, 18 in Attock, 42 in Jhelum and 129 in Chakwal.
It was observed that carpets or mates were found laid in six mosques while clean floor for prayers was not ensured.
The most serious violation of rules was observed in 52 mosques where people over 50 years of age and children were present during Taraweeh prayers. Of the 52 mosques, 26 were located in Rawalpindi where the SOP regarding presence of people over 50 years of age and children were ignored.
Taraweeh were offered in 17 mosques, including 14 in Rawalpindi district, which did not have a veranda/lawn or adequate space between the main entrance gate/door and the prayer hall. In 14 mosques/imambargahs, including four located in Rawalpindi district, the lighting arrangements were found unsatisfactory.
Performance of security guards
In 79 mosques/imambargahs, including 54 in Rawalpindi district, private security guards were neither deployed nor performing duties in a satisfactory manner.
In addition, in 34 mosques, 20 located in the Rawalpindi district, police guards were either not present or found not alert at the time of checking. Body search was not carried out in 52 mosques/imambargahs, including 28 in the Rawalpindi district.
Checking through metal detectors was not carried out in 43 mosques/imambargahs and 28 of these were located in the Rawalpindi district.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2020