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In Assam, officials lock down 3 villages as thousands attend preacher’s funeral

The funeral prayer gathering for Khairul Islam — a vice-president of the All India Jamiat Ulema and a “Aamir-e-Shariat” for the Northeast — was held at his native place in Nagaon on the afternoon of July 2. Islam was 87.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati | Updated: July 5, 2020 8:11:09 am
In Assam, officials lock down 3 villages as thousands attend preacher’s funeral A suspected COVID-19 woman being taken to a hospital during the lockdown imposed by the state government to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Guwahati, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (PTI Photo)

After thousands of people in Assam’s Nagaon district attended the funeral of a well-known preacher—the father of a legislator—fears of the spread of the coronavirus have escalated, prompting officials to lock down three villages surrounding the field where the gathering was held.

The funeral prayer gathering for Khairul Islam — a vice-president of the All India Jamiat Ulema and a “Aamir-e-Shariat” for the Northeast — was held at his native place in Nagaon on the afternoon of July 2. Islam was 87.

The family wanted the funeral to be held on July 3, but later decided to go ahead with it by July 2 itself. Photographs shared on Facebook by his son Aminul Islam, an MLA of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) from Nagaon’s Dhing constituency, shows a huge gathering at a field.

District administration officials estimate at least 10,000 people were in attendance.

Nagaon Deputy Commissioner Jadav Saikia said two police cases have been filed, one suo motu by the police and another by a magistrate present at the spot. Saikia added that a lockdown has been imposed on three villages surrounding the field in an attempt to contain any spread of the virus.

“There were no law and order issues in the gathering. But the gatherers violated the ongoing Covid pandemic laws regarding gathering, social distancing, wearing masks, etc. The cases are not against any individual but against violators. We will investigate the case and proceed as per law,” Saikia told The Sunday Express.

MLA Islam told The Sunday Express: “My father was a very renowned figure and had a very large following. We had communicated to the administration about the death and the funeral. Accordingly, to limit the number of participants, the police also asked many vehicles to revert back. But still people found ways to turn up.”

In April, Aminul Islam was arrested and booked under sedition for allegedly making communal statements in an audio clip and sharing it on social media.

In a viral audio clip, he purportedly said that quarantine centres in Assam were “worse” than the state’s detention centres for undocumented migrants and that the government was “conspiring” against Muslims and putting those associated with the Tablighi Jamaat into isolation. He alleged that the state could kill someone in quarantine and then say the person died “due to the coronavirus”.

The legislator is out on bail now.

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