Press Trust of india

Nizamuddin Markaz reopens its doors

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New Delhi, Mar 29: A year after it was shut, the Nizamuddin Markaz building opened for Shab-e-Barat prayers on Sunday — albeit with visitors capped at 50. A policeman outside the six-storey building checked the names of those arriving on a list before letting them enter.

The premises had been locked after a case was registered against people who attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation last March, allegedly in violation of Covid guidelines. The locality had subsequently been named a hotspot.

Last Wednesday, the Centre told the Delhi High Court that 50 people chosen by the Waqf Board can be allowed to offer prayers at the mosque inside the Markaz during the festival once the names of those individuals are provided to the area SHO.

A Tablighi Jamaat member, who visited the Markaz on Sunday night, said, “It is good that it has been opened but more people should have been allowed. We are happy to obey rules but there should be stricter implementation in gatherings across India during elections, where social distancing is being ignored.”

He also spoke of the treatment meted out to other Jamaat members by the government and media: “The media declared us human bombs when the fact was that people here were trapped like at many other places across the world due to sudden lockdown.”

As the clock struck 8, and with 40 people in the building, police ordered closure of shops in the market. Some locals were seen asking police to let them enter but were turned back. “This is festival time and Covid is spreading fast. We cannot allow many people to gather,” said an officer at the site.

Saif Ahmed, a volunteer at the Markaz, said all social distancing norms were maintained inside as it is a big area with capacity to accommodate thousands. “Fifty people have been allowed as of now… Government guidelines are being strictly followed. We hope that just like other places, be it a masjid, mandir or a gurdwara, where visitors have been allowed, people are allowed here too.”

The submission on behalf of the Centre in court was made after Waqf Board, represented by senior advocate Ramesh Gupta and advocate Wajeeh Shafiq, urged the court to permit some individuals to pray at the mosque for Shab-e-Barat. They said only the mosque would be used and not the madrasa. Gupta urged the court to decide the matter before Ramzan commences from April 13 as more people would want to offer prayers at the mosque during that time.

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