Gazipur, Bangladesh (BBN)– The first phase of the Bishwa Ijtema began on Friday on the banks of the Turag river in Tongi, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, with participation of thousands of devotees from home and abroad.
The Bishwa Ijtema, one of the biggest congregations of Muslims in the world, started with the deliberation of ‘Aam Bayan’ (general sermons) by noted scholar Maulana Abdur Rahman of Pakistan after Fajr prayers while Islamic scholar of Tabligh Jamaat Abdul Matin interpreted that into Bangla.
The congregation, also called the World Muslims’ Congregation, is being held in two phases from 2012 to ease accommodation problem.
The first phase of the three-day Biswa Ijtema, being organised by Tabligh Jamaat since 1946, will conclude on Sunday with the Akheri Munajat (concluding prayers) while the second phase is slated for January 15-17, the organizers said.
Tight security measures are in place for the event along with deployment of several thousand members of different law enforcement agencies, including Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police.
The elite force –RAB – took a three-dimensional security measures covering land, water and aerial routes to ensure foolproof safety of the devotees at the Biswa Ijtema.
Besides, thousands of volunteers are working round the clock to make sure the event runs smoothly.
Several health centres were set up at different parts of the venue along with beds and almost all first aid and other treatment facilities with doctors doing round-the-clock duties at each centre.
Meanwhile, four devotees died of old-age complications and cold at the Ijtema venue on Thursday and Friday.
Three of the deceased were identified as Joynal Abedin of Ronkali village in Gopalganj upazila of Sylhet, Nurul Islam of Chaklapar village in Ulipur upazila of Kurigram and Farid Uddin of Batia village in Singra upazila of Natore.
Bangladesh Railway is operating 28 special trains to carry the devotees of the two-phase Biswa Ijtema.
The state-owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) is running 228 buses for carrying the devotees to the Ijtema ground from different places, including the capital, and sending them back to their respective areas.
The first phase will end on Sunday and the second phase will start on 15th January and conclude on 17th January with Akheri Munajat. For the first time, the Ijtema will be held in four phases in two years.
People from 33 districts will take part in the first two phases this year, while those from the remaining 32 districts will participate in two more phases next year. But foreigners will be able to join in every phase.
Devotees participating in the first phase joined from Dhaka, Sherpur, Narayanganj, Nilphamari, Sirajganj, Natore, Gaibandha, Laxmipur, Sylhet, Chittagong, Narail, Madaripur, Bhola, Magura, Patuakhali, Jhalkathi and Panchagarh districts.
In second phase, devotees from Dhaka, Jhenidah, Jamalpur, Faridpur, Netrakona, Narsingdi, Comilla, Kurigram, Rajshahi, Feni, Thakurgaon, Sunamganj, Bogra, Khulna, Chuadanga and Pirojpur will participate.