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Not iftar parties, Delhi’s young Muslims will mark this Ramzan by feeding the poor




Vendors outside Delhi's Jama Masjid during the holy month of Ramzan in 2019 (representational image) | Photo: Bloomberg
Vendors outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid during the holy month of Ramzan in 2019 (representational image) | Photo: Bloomberg

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New Delhi: No iftar parties, no special outings, and no taraweeh prayers in mosques — Ramzan 2020 will be unlike any other that Indian Muslims have ever experienced. And while community leaders have reiterated their appeals to stay at home and observe the ritual fasting and prayers indoors, some younger Muslims in Delhi have decided to spend the holy month doing something new to help out people in the time of the lockdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week announced the extension of the nationwide lockdown to 3 May. Ramzan, dedicated to fasting from sunrise to sunset every day, is tentatively set to begin on 24 April in India, depending on the sighting of the moon.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi then held a meeting with officials of various state waqf boards via video conferencing, to ensure there aren’t any violations of the lockdown and social distancing guidelines during Ramzan, spelt by some as Ramadan.

Up to seven lakh mosques, eidgahs and dargahs, along with other religious and social institutions, come under state waqf boards across the country.

“The guidelines are very clear. No mosque will be opened till the lockdown is lifted and new rules come into place. People will have to pray at their homes during Ramzan,” Basit Ali, spokesperson of the Delhi Waqf Board, told ThePrint.

Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the shahi imam of Delhi’s Fatehpuri mosque, too has urged everyone to stay indoors during Ramzan. “If we fast and pray at home, there is no problem with it. We should follow the rules of lockdown,” he said.

Also read: Avoid large gatherings, follow physical distancing — WHO issues guidelines for Ramadan

Volunteering to help people

An important part of Ramzan is also the taraweeh — up to 20 rakats of additional prayers performed in congregation every night of the holy month. But with the lockdown restricting all movement and assembly, mosques which would ordinarily be thronged for taraweeh prayers are set to bear deserted looks this time around.

“I thought to myself, we can either let the entire situation make us feel defeated and anxious, or we can do something about it,” Irtiza Quraishi, 33-year-old founder of Delhi-based NGO Marham, told ThePrint.

Quraishi chose the latter, and called for volunteers in a Facebook post: “How about delivering ration to 20 extremely needy families as an alternate (sic) to offering 20 rakaat taraweeh every evening in first 20 days of Ramadaan? And then offer taraweeh at home in isolation.”

There were a number of requirements volunteers had to fulfil — be willing to work for the first 20 nights of Ramzan from 8 pm to 11 pm, have a car, live in an area of Delhi which is not a hotspot, and be ready to drive every evening within Delhi to deliver ration kits.

But within a day’s time, Quraishi’s inbox was flooded, with over 60 people volunteering to help distribute the rations across various parts of the city.

The Hamdard National Foundation has given ration kits worth Rs 20 lakh to Quraishi’s team, and they have already started distributing aid in the city.

“The only issue is that of travel. Even though we have curfew passes, there is a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation. A lot of our volunteers sport beards, wear kurta-pyjamas — they don’t want to be seen as violating any rules when they clearly aren’t,” Quraishi said.

Also read: Covid, Ramzan and expats are sparking food shortage fears in Gulf countries

Encouragement through design

It isn’t just NGOs, politicians and clerics who have made appeals to remain indoors during Ramzan.

‘Minimal Muslim’, a design start-up based in New Delhi, has released a series of graphics using its signature minimalist design in the run up to Ramzan. The graphics include the message: “This Ramadan we have a bigger responsibility. #BeAResponsibleMuslim.”

The graphics then go on to list out things to avoid this Ramzan: “Avoid Iftar parties, we understand you will miss it badly but we must help stop the spread of coronavirus. Have it with your family,” one graphic reads.

“Avoid taraweeh jamat,” reads another graphic, “even in basement, parking or terrace. Only family members or house-mates may do jamat (sic).”

Amir Equabal, founder of Minimal Muslim, said this is his attempt to visually communicate what is important for the community to note before Ramzan.

“We are also designing a Ramzan schedule of sorts. Vague directions are usually tough to follow, but this schedule will include specific names of charity organisations in all parts of Delhi that people can donate to during Ramzan, and other important things they should focus on,” Equabal said.

Also read: Everyone has got it wrong in the Ramadan-Ramzan debate. And no, it’s not about Wahhabism


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




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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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.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘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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