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‘Won’t allow tourists at Imambara till religious gatherings are allowed’: Shia cleric slams Lucknow admin

On Wednesday, Lucknow DM Abhishek Prakash had ordered that the Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara and Picture Gallery – all located in the Heritage zone in old Lucknow – would reopen from September 24.

By: Express News Service | Lucknow | September 24, 2020 9:42:57 am
UP covid cases, UP unlockdown, Imambara, Imambara open for tourists, Imambara religious activities, Maulana Kalbe Jawad, Maulana Kalbe Jawad slams luckno admin, lucknow newsImambara in Lucknow. (Express Archive)

PROMINENT SHIA cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad said on Wednesday that if the administration does not permit religious activities at the Imambara in Lucknow but allow tourists to visit the monument, the Shia community would organise religious activities inside the Imambara, following social distancing and other norms in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I criticise the decision of the District Magistrate, who is also the chairman of the Hussainabad and Allied Trust (HAT), to reopen the Imamabara and Chota Imambara amid the Covid-19 pandemic for the purpose of tourism. The Imambara was built for the purpose of mourning and lamentation. And without the permission to do this, they have allowed tourists to visit the place, which is step-motherly treatment towards the Shia community,” Jawad said in a statement.

He added, “People in the administration are taking decisions that hurt the [Shia] community’s feelings. Our community is very responsible and they made efforts, especially during Muharram, to check the spread of coronavirus. However, if religious activities are not permitted now, it will be difficult to control the sentiments of
the people belonging to the community.”

He demanded that religious activities should be allowed and these would be done following social distancing norms, along with other restrictions. “If the administration allows tourists without permitting religious activities, no one will be able to stop us from holding religious activities at the Imambara,” the cleric said in the statement.

During a press briefing later in the day, Jawad also demanded that the HAT, which owns the monuments in the heritage zone, should comprise some people from the Shia community. “Officers in the Trust are corrupt and there should be some people from the Shia community too in the Trust. I have communicated this to the state government many times, including the previous Mayawati-led government and the present government… No audit has been done on the earnings from the monuments for 10 years,” he alleged.

Jawad also claimed that officials are refusing to give permission in writing for religious activities at the Imambaras. “From the religious activities, they (government) will not make money, but through tourists, government officials will make money,” he said.

On Wednesday, Lucknow DM Abhishek Prakash had ordered that the Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara and Picture Gallery – all located in the Heritage zone in old Lucknow – would reopen from September 24. The DM has said these places would be reopened, with Covid-19 protocol.

The state government had, on Tuesday, increased the cap on number of devotees inside any religious place to 100 from five. Restrictions to be followed inside will remain in force.

When contacted, City Magistrate Sushil Paratp Singh, who is also HAT secretary, said they would follow Unlock IV guidelines and will take a decision accordingly. “We have to first see if Imambara comes under the category of religious places. If it does, permission will be given according to Unlock IV guidelines. We are open to holding talks with cleric Jawad and her his side. Based on all this, a decision will be made,” said Singh.

Asked about the allegations of corruption in the HAT, he said, “If the cleric knows about corruption, he should give names to senior officers and action will be taken accordingly.”

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