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Ramadan amid COVID

The holiest month in Islam, Ramadan begins amid the worst surge of Covid-19 in Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. It is the second Ramadan in this pandemic as this time last year the entire valley was in a state of lockdown as the virus had begun to engulf the world infecting hundreds of thousands each day. After a year of fighting this global pandemic, the world seems to be back to square one as more daily cases are showing up today than ever. J&K is recording 1,000 cases each day, with experts fearing that the fresh spike is going to continue and may break all previous records. As for India, the country saw its biggest surge in the last few days with each day recording over 1.5 lakh cases. Amid this crisis, the month of Ramadan has arrived yet again. Kashmir, where majority are Muslims, used to be in a festive mood ahead of the month but the last two years have been quite solemn. First because of the lockdown enforced after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 and then the pandemic which rattled the entire world. The air of uncertainty and a grim healthcare situation continues as we enter another month of fasting. Ramadan is a month of prayers, beseeching the Lord, as well as helping the needy. However, this year, like the last one, we have an additional responsibility of ensuring that we keep this virus under check. That at least from our end we should strictly follow the SOPs so that the chain is broken. Amid a surge in Covid-19 positive cases, the Wakf Board in Kashmir 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 Tarawih will be held as per schedule at the Wakf affiliated mosques. But people 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. 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. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has asked the Deputy Commissioners and Police Superintendents to facilitate religious prayers and functions during curfew timings in this holy month. People must ensure that while they pray and ask the Lord to get the entire world out of this catastrophic position, they should also realise their responsibility in keep the virus at bay.