SAHIWAL: Punjab Auqaf department on Monday decided to allow a limited number of devotees to attend the rites of the 778th Urs of Baba Farid-ud-Din Ganj Shakar at Pakpattan this year given the threat of resurgence of coronavirus cases which are presently on the decline in the province.
The decision was taken in a meeting presided over by Auqaf Secretary Dr Irshad Ahmed at Pakpattan deputy commissioner’s office. It was also attended by Sahiwal Commissioner Ahsan Waheed, Auqaf Director General Tahir Raza, and the officers of police and district administration.
The meeting decided that devotees from other cities would not be encouraged to enter Pakpattan to attend the Urs.
“Only a limited number of people will be allowed to enter shrine premises,” DC Ahmed Kamal Mann told the media.
He said it had also been decided that the Bahishti Darwaza of the shrine would be opened only for two nights, instead of traditional five nights.
A Covid-19 awareness campaign would be run in the city for the devotees to make them observe social distance and other related standard operating procedures (SOPs), he added.
Sources said the DC had proposed to the provincial government to postpone the Urs this year as it was beyond the district administration’s capacity to ensure implementation of Covid SOPs during the 10-day activity from first to 10th of Muharram.
However, shrine caretaker Dewan Madood Masood Chishti strongly opposed the proposal and demanded that instead of cancelling the Urs rites, the event should be allowed to be held with limited participation, by ensuring the SOPs.
Auqaf secretary said the meeting also decided that entry to the shrine would only be through special passes.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020