Tens of thousands of devotees flocked to the Turag River bank at Tongi as the first phase of Biswa Ijtema, one of the biggest congregations of Muslims in the world, began on Friday.The congregation, also called the World Muslims’ Congregation, began 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 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 Ijtema is being held in two phases from 2012 to ease accommodation problem.
Several lakh Muslims attended the Jum’a prayers at the Ijtema venue on the first day.
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.
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 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, bomb disposal units and dog squads of Rab were deployed at the Ijtema ground to avert any subversive act.
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.
There are also special measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity during the three-day Ijtema.
Bangladesh Railway is operating 28 special trains to carry the devotees of the two-phase Biswa Ijtema.
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.