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Delhi Muslims mark prayer night indoors

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A representational image of a Delhi street. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint
A representational image of a Delhi street. | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht/ThePrint


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New Delhi: The night of Wednesday marked a sombre Shab-e-Barat in many parts of the country, with Muslims in the national capital observing the auspicious night within the four walls of their homes due to the restrictions in place to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Under ordinary circumstances, Shab-e-Barat or ‘the night of forgiveness’ sees community members taking to the streets, illuminating houses and the roads in celebration of what is seen as a blessed night for many. Graveyards, in particular, see heavy footfalls as many assemble there to pray for the departed loved ones. 

However, this time around, with the Delhi Police making it clear that the lockdown restrictions are very much in place during the festival night, the streets of the national capital remained largely empty.

Similar sights were witnessed in other parts of the national capital region, with people avoiding stepping out entirely.

“With heavy police presence, people are wary of coming to the graveyard anyway these days. Last night too, no one showed up,” Anees Rahman, caretaker of a graveyard in Gurugram, told ThePrint. 

“Many are observing the occasion on 9 April, as opposed to 8 April. But I don’t think people will still show up because everyone wants to be careful in times of coronavirus,” he added.

Shab-e-Barat is observed on the night between day 14 and 15 of Sha’ban — the eighth month of the Islamic calendar, which fell on 8 April this year. However, some mosques in different parts of the country issued circulars stating that they will be observing the occasion on 9 April.


Also read: Kejriwal meeting with Delhi BJP MPs turns into blame game on tracing Tablighi Jamaat members


‘A quiet Shab-e-Barat’

The Delhi police put heavy restrictions and patrolling in place on Shab-e-Barat to ensure there isn’t any congregation on the night.

“They shut all the meat shops and other facilities here early evening itself to ensure no one steps out. People stuck by the rules and stayed indoors,” said a resident of Jamia Nagar in Delhi who didn’t wish to be named.

“This is the first time in our entire lives that we are witnessing such a quiet Shab-e-Barat, but it’s for the right reasons,” he added.

Another resident of nearby Shaheen Bagh said no one ventured out and everyone stuck to praying at homes.

“All the shops were closed at 6 pm itself, the masjids also announced repeatedly that no one should step out. There was heavy police presence so no one gathered near the graveyards,” Khurshid Alam told ThePrint. 

“Many mosques have announced 9 April as the date of Shab-e-Barat. So it is yet to be seen if people will come out Thursday night or not,” he added.

Appeals from religious leaders

A group of fifteen Muslim clerics and leaders including Mahmood Madani, general secretary of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, and Zafarul Islam, chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, had appealed to the community ahead of the night to stay indoors and worship.

“Muslims should not visit graveyards but pray for their departed relatives while staying at home. We appeal, in particular, to our youth to completely refrain from going out of their homes during this night,” the appeal had said.

A similar appeal was made by the Karnataka Waqf board to suspend all prayers and visits to the graveyard on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat. However, Karnataka, is observing the occasion on the 9 April, according to the official Waqf circular.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, chief of the Islamic Center of India headquartered in Lucknow, also said in a video that Shab-e-Barat will be observed on 9 April in the capital of Uttar Pradesh. “At no cost should anyone visit graveyards or go out of their homes during lockdown,” he said in an advisory.


Also read: Modi tells MPs lockdown only way to curb Covid-19 spread, hints at extension beyond 14 April


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


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‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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