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‘No mask, No namaz’: Kashmir mosques, shrines to observe strict Covid SOPs in Ramadan

Following the increase in COVID-19 cases in Kashmir, people observe social distancing during Friday prayers in Srinagar (File photo: KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar: Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, Wakf Board has decided not to allow people without masks into the mosques and shrines during the fasting month of Ramadan.

While all prayers during Ramadan will be held as per schedule at the mosques, the board will also provide masks to the people to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“All prayers including Fajr, Isha, and Taraweh will be held as per schedule at the Wakf affiliated mosques. But, we have to follow Covid SOPs. Nobody will be allowed to enter the mosques without masks. In case the people don’t have masks, we will provide them the same. We have passed strict instructions for adherence to the safety protocols,” Wakf Board chief executive officer Mufti Muhammad Farid-ud-Din told The Kashmir Monitor.

Even as there was confusion over the holding of Tarawih and Fajr prayers due to the Covid-19 night curfew, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, Srinagar too said it will follow Covid-19 safety protocols at the grand mosque during ‘namaz’ in Ramadan.

The Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid even said it will review the decision to allow prayers at the mosque in case the people did not follow guidelines.

“Any violation by Namazis in the said guidelines regarding COVID-19 prevention may create issues that could even force the Auqaf to review the decision on prayers at Jamia Masjid,” an Anjuman Auqaf statement said.

Maulvi Iftikhar, a local cleric, said prayers at most of the mosques were yet again being held with adherence to physical distancing.

“Earlier, people had started offering namaaz shoulder-to-shoulder like before and not many would use masks. However, if you go to the mosques now, you can see people praying while keeping spaces in between. On Friday, maulvis even make announcements during Friday sermons to keep spaces as the Covid wave is back,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Wakf Board CEO said the decision to allow big congregations like that of Shab-e-Qadr will be taken later.

“Right now, we will hold prayers but with adherence to Covid SOPs. However, we will take a call 2-3 days before Shab-e-Qadr if we can allow huge congregations. It all depends on the number of (Covid positive) cases. If the numbers are down, we will have Shab too,” he said.

Earlier, the Wakf Board had asked the maulvis to create awareness over Covid safety protocols during Friday sermons.

After a spike in Covid cases, the government had on Thursday announced imposition of night curfew in the urban areas of eight districts, including Jammu and Srinagar from 10 pm to 6 am.

However, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday asked the Deputy Commissioners and Police Superintendents to facilitate religious prayers and functions during curfew timings in the holy month of Ramadan.