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Centre asks states to remain cautious during Ramzan; ensure no gatherings in mosques


New Delhi, Apr 21: The Union government has asked the states and union territories to remain cautious and ensure that there are no prayer gatherings during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan beginning Thursday in view of the ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

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The central government has also asked the state governments and UT administrations to urge Muslim leaders to ask their followers to remain at home. "Prayers and gatherings at any religious place are prohibited during lockdown and we hope that everyone will abide by the directive," a senior government official told PTI.

The state governments have been told to be in touch with Muslim leaders to ensure that there are no gatherings in mosques and people must pray at home, the official said.

The central government conveyed this to the states and UTs after receiving inputs that people may gather in mosques in some parts of the country for 'Taraweeh' prayers, which are normally conducted in mosques in the evening.

According to the revised consolidated guidelines issued by the Home Ministry on April 15, all religious places and places of worship shall be closed for public. Religious congregations are strictly prohibited during the lockdown, which will continue till May 3.

The state governments were also told to reach out to mosque management committees and community leaders through local police so that no one visits mosques for prayers, another official said.

Even though several Muslim organisations and clerics have appealed to people to pray at home during Ramzan, authorities are apprehensive in view of detection of a large number of people at Tablighi Jamaat headquarters at Nizamuddin in Delhi despite the lockdown and social distancing orders.

The Nizamuddin Markaz also hosted a large religious congregation last month and authorities said 30 per cent of India's total COVID-19 cases were linked to it as many of those who attended the meeting or those who had come in contact with the attendees tested positive for the infection.

During the month of Ramzan, Muslims observe dawn-to-dusk fast and hold community prayers. There are also iftar feasts where people gather for a community meal in the evening.

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