Biswa Ijtema begins with Aam Bayan
After a two-day hiccup over joining it by Indian scholar Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, the first phase of Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj, is set to begin on the bank of the Turag River at Tongi on Friday.

The first phase of the three-day Ijtema will begin with 'Aam Bayan' (general sermons) by noted scholars after Fazr prayers that will end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on January 14.

Thousands of devotees from home and abroad started to throng the Ijtema ground on the bank of the Turag since Wednesday night to take part in the religious event seeking divine blessings of the Almighty Allah.

The second phase of the Tongi Ijtema will begin on January 19 at the same venue and it is scheduled to end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on January 21.

The opposition to the participation of top Indian scholar of Tabligh Jamaat Maulana Saad Kandhalvi in the Ijtema by Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh had created a crisis over the congregation.

However, the dispute was settled following a government intervention. It was decided at a meeting at the Home Ministry on Thursday that Saad Kandhalvi will not join the Ijtema.

After the meeting with the Sura members of Bangladesh Tabligh Jamaat and five members of ‘Alem Advisory Committee’ at his ministry, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan announced the decision.

‘The two feuding groups reached an understanding that Saad Kandhalvi won’t attend the Ijtema. He’ll go back to India at his convenient time. He’ll stay at Kakrail Mosque until his departure,’ he said.

A large number of Tabligh Jamaat men put barricade on Airport Road intersection on Wednesday afternoon protesting the arrival of the Indian Tabligh Jamaat scholar to take part in the Biswa Ijtema following his controversial comments about religious issues, creating huge tailbacks in the area.

The first phase of 53 Biswa Ijtema will end on Sunday with the Akheri Munajat.

Police have taken a five-tier security measure for the Biswa Ijtema to ensure overall security.

At a press briefing on Thursday, Harun-or-Rashid, superintendent of Gazipur police, said around 7,000 police members will remain deployed to ensure security of the Ijtema devotees.

Around 50 CCTVs have been installed to monitor the Ijtema ground and the adjoining areas, he said.

Bangladesh Railway (BR) has made arrangements to operate special trains on different routes of the country to facilitate the movement of Muslim devotees of the Biswa Ijtema.

Tablig Jamaat has been organizing the Ijtema at this venue since 1967. However, the Ijtema is held in two phases since 2011 to ease the accommodation problem.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday issued separate messages greeting the Muslim devotees all over the world on the occasion of the Bishwa Ijtema.

In the messages, the President and the Prime Minister wished all success of the three-day congregation.

Tablig Jamaat's senior leader Md Gias Uddin today said devotees from 32 districts of the country will take part in the two phases of Ijtema while devotees from 16 districts of the country and abroad will join the first phase.

Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Professor MA Manna said the City Corporation, district administration, police, RAB and Ansar and VDP have set up five separate control rooms to monitor the overall activities of the Tongi Ijtema.

The City Corporation erected 13 gates at the entrances of the Ijtema ground to welcome the foreign devotees, he added.

The mayor also said 3.54 lakh gallons of fresh water will be supplied everyday through 18.50 kilometer pipelines from 13 deep tube-wells and 21 trucks will be engaged in removing garbage from the Ijtema ground.

Fire Service and Civil Defense Director (operation and maintenance) Major AKM Shakil Newaz said senior officials of the service were directed to ensure all kinds of fire safety at the Ijtema venue.

According to the sources, 15 watch towers and 41 close circuit camera televisions have been set up in and around the Ijtema ground alongside deployment of bomb disposal units and dog squads to ensure foolproof security of the Biswa Ijtema.

Fifty medical teams and 14 ambulances will provide health care services to the devotees during the three-day congregation.
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