Mumbai: Permission for a large religious congregation in Maharashtra’s Vasai was cancelled by the Maharashtra Police just days before the event was to begin last month, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Thursday. The permission was cancelled in the light of the fear of Covid-19 pandemic and this proactive step by the Maharashtra Police is being lauded by the government. The event, to be held in Mumbai’s neighbourhood, was to be attended by 50,000 people, including foreign nationals.
“A replay of the ugly fiasco, which has seen the Tablighi Jamaat come under the glare for an event they held in Delhi and has spawned many Covid-19 clusters across India, was narrowly averted in Mumbai's far suburb of Vasai due to an alert Maharashtra Home Ministry. Permission to hold a similar congregation in Vasai where over 50,000 people were expected to gather was withheld by the Home Ministry in light of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country,” Maharashtra Home department stated in a note.
A Trust named Shamim Education and Welfare Society had sought permission to organise a grand congregation — Tablighi Ijtema — on March 14 and 15, at Diwanman village in Vasai West. It had started seeking official permissions from January itself. A formal letter was written to the police seeking permission for a programme which would include reading of the Quran and holding discourses and prayers. In fact, the local police had issued permission to the programme on February 5, 2020.
But by the beginning of March, the news about the spread of Corona virus had the administrative machinery rethinking about the permissions. “The Home Ministry swung into action and rescinded the permission already granted by the local police and strictly warned the organisers against having any such congregation at all,” Deshmukh said, adding, “Now on seeing the chaos over the Delhi congregation, it seems our quick action prevented the same from unfolding here.”
At a time when the Nizamuddin congregation has sparked fear of spread across the country, Deshmukh did not leave the opportunity to score a political point over opponent BJP. “If the Home Ministry in Delhi could have shown such far sightedness and quicker reflexes, it would have helped avert both the spread of infection and its massive humanitarian fallout,” he said.