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Ablution at home, own mats, six feet distance: Govt mulls reopening mosques, shrines in Kashmir

A man offering prayers along in a mosque in Srinagar (File Photo: KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir administration is mulling to reopen mosques and shrines in the union territory. 

Religious places including mosques, shrines, gurduwaras, temples, and churches were closed for worshippers on March 21 when the government announced lockdown.

Two months into the lockdown, J&K administration is working out Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for reopening shrines and mosques.

Jammu and Kashmir Wakf Board has scheduled a meeting with the clerics and experts on June 4 to discuss modalities for opening mosques and shrines in the valley.

“We will be having threadbare discussions with clerics and other experts. We will get their feedback and accordingly a strategy will be evolved to ensure virus free religious places,” said Showkat Ahmad Beig, Secretary, Wakf Board.

 On May 31, the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque in Madina and tens of other religious places were thrown open for worshippers in Saudi Arabia after two months of lockdown.

 Other Islamic countries including Indonesia, Palestine, and Turkey also partially opened mosques for prayers. These countries listed SOPs for worshippers that include maintaining six feet distance, wearing masks and gloves, ablution from home, personal mats, avoiding greetings, and prohibiting people below 15 years of age.

J&K Wakf Board said they would also come up with similar SOPs once they decide on re-opening mosques and shrines.

“Let us see what clerics advise us. If they give their consent, then masks, gloves, and social distancing will be made mandatory for the worshippers. Before that, all the religious places will be sanitized by chemicals,” Beigh said.

Secretary Wakf Board said the outcome of the meeting would be conveyed to the administration accordingly.

“Presently Wakf is being administered by the revenue department. Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Ahmad Khan Sahab is looking after Wakf affairs.  We will record the minutes of the meeting and accordingly convey it to the administration,” he said.

Under fresh guidelines, the government has relaxed lockdown and allowed certain activities across the country. On Monday, shops were reopened at various places particularly downtown Srinagar after more than two months of lockdown.