Dawoodi Bohra leader Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin will travel from his headquarters in Mumbai to Sri Lanka’s hill resort of Bandarawela later this month, a top Sri Lankan official has told media in that country.
The Syedna and his immediate family have been camping in Khandala since the lockdown began in Maharashtra. A Bohra community spokesperson told The Indian Express that the Syedna had no travel plans at the moment.
However, in a statement to Sri Lankan media, Admiral Jayanath Colombage, who is additional secretary for foreign affairs in the office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said that Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin was arriving on June 21, and would be accorded all the welcome and protocol due to a “head of state”. He said the Syedna would stay in Bandarawela until the pandemic situation eases in India.
Sri Lanka was the earliest of all south Asian countries to lock down under a strict curfew, shut down the airport and suspend flights from abroad. The Sri Lankan government would have to make an exemption for the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community. Officials at the Sri Lanka consulate in Mumbai confirmed that plans for Syedna’s family are under way but said they were not involved in making arrangements for the travel.
Sources in Sri Lanka said he is to arrive with a 45-member retinue, including family members and staff, in a special plane.
The Sri Lankan Daily Mirror quoted Colombage as saying, “They are currently in Mumbai. We have instructed them to do PCR tests 48 hours prior to departure and get the test reports. Then we know that they have not caught the Covid-19 within these two days. Then they are sent straight to their retreat in Bandarawela and quarantined as per health regulation, overseen by the Army.”
At the Syedna’s permanent residence, Saifee Mahal, in Mumbai’s Malabar Hills, 13 Covid-19 positive cases have been detected since June 6. BMC officials said 40 people in the residence, spread over a vast area, were tested with help of Saifee hospital. The 13 positive cases are all in one of the three buildings in Saifee Mahal. The building has been sealed. Those who had developed symptoms or had comorbidities have been shifted to Saifee hospital.
A Dawoodi Bohra community spokesperson confirmed that several in Syedna’s Malabar Hill residence have tested positive, but said Syedna’s immediate family had left for Khandala and have been there for more than two months.
When asked about travel plans of Syedna, the spokesperson said, “As far as we are aware there are no travel plans at the moment.” When asked whether Syedna had approached the Sri Lankan government for permission to travel to that country, the spokesperson refused to comment.
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