Ijtema to be held jointly in Feb 15-17: govt

Staff Correspondent | Published: 19:58, Feb 03,2019 | Updated: 02:13, Feb 04,2019


The ground on the bank of Turag in Tongi, on the outskirts of Dhaka, is illuminated with strings of lights as preparations are on for Bishwa Ijtema on Saturday night. — Sourav Lasker

The government on Sunday reaffirmed that Bishwa Ijtema would begin on February 15 for three days but there would be another meeting to settle a few unresolved issues between the factions over their leadership.
‘There is a demand for holding Ijmeta separately but it must be held at the same place and jointly,’ Sheikh Md Abdullah, state minister for religious affairs, told the reporters at his office after a daylong meeting with factions of Tabligh leaderships, three other ministers and top officials of law enforcement agencies.
He also said, ‘Holding of Ijtema and keeping Tabligh united were now related to the image of the government.’
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan also said the state minister for youth and sports Zahid Ahsan Russel and Gazipur city mayor Jahangir Alam were tasked with preparing the tents for the guests from across the country and abroad.
Since 2017, sharp differences developed between two factions of Bangladesh Tabligh over the participation and leadership of Maulana Muhammad Saad Al Kandhalvi of Delhi in the Bishwa Ijtema.
Emerging from the last meeting with the junior minister at the secretariat on Sunday, Maulana Ashraf Ali, who claimed to be a senior member of ‘main’ Tabligh, however, told reporters that they placed different dates beside the government-proposed one to hold one of the gatherings.
Maulana Ashraf said they placed a set of demands including of withdrawal of a letter sent by another faction to the foreign friends.
As Maulana Ashraf Ali was talking to the press on the lobby of the religious ministry, the junior minster intervened and said ‘The February 15, 16 and 17 are finalised by both factions.’
Earlier in the morning, the home minister, liberation war affair minister AKM Mozammel Hossain, state minister for religious affair ministry Sheikh Md Abdullah, and prime ministers’ military secretary Major General Miah Muhammad Joynul Abedin, among others, held a three-hour meeting on same issue.
Senior Tabligh followers Syed Wasiful Islam led a group while Maulana Muhammad Zubair led the other faction.
One of the Tabligh followers said they were worried about security as they feared violent clashes like those on December 1, 2018.
On December 1, 2018, a man was killed and hundreds were injured in a series of clashes between the two factions allegedly over establishing dominance at Bishwa Ijtema grounds on the banks of the River Turag on the city’s outskirts.
The anti-Saad platform claimed that over 900 of their followers were injured in the attack, and blamed Tabligh leaders Syed Wasiful Islam and Sahabuddin Nasim, among others, for carrying out the attack and demanded their arrest.
This year only one session of 54th Bishwa Ijtema would be held to minimise the differences between the two groups, state minister for religious affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah told reporters on January 24 after holding a meeting with the both groups at his office.
After the meeting on January 24, the factions of Tabligh could not come to any conclusion about who would lead the final prayer called ‘Akheri munajat’ and the Jumma prayer during Ijtema, leading to the fresh tension.

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