Preparations for Ijtema in full swing
The preparation for Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims next to hajj, scheduled to start on January 22, is going on in full swing with thousands of volunteers working round the clock to prepare its ground on 150 acres of land to accommodate the devotees.
The three-day congregation is expected to witness around 15-20 lakh devotees from across the world, said the organisers. The Tablig-e-Jamaat has been organising the gathering since 1976.
Over 15,000 foreign devotees from different Muslim countries are likely to join the congregation on the bank of river Turag at Tongi, some 20 km north of capital Dhaka. Last year, around 20 lakh devotees including 10,500 foreign devotees from 105 Muslim countries had joined the gathering.
The event, also called the world congregation of Muslims, mainly focuses on prayers and meditation seeking divine blessing from Allah.
The three-day programme includes delivering boyans (sermons) on the fundamental issues of Tablig, prayer for the spiritual adulation, exaltation and welfare of the Muslim community.
The program will conclude with the Akheri Munajat (final prayer) on the last day in January 24.
Visiting the Ijtema ground yesterday, The Daily Star correspondent found that thousands of volunteers were erecting long stretch of tents and setting up electricity lines. Officials concerned were seen working to ensure water, sanitation and other necessary works.
"The preparation is going on in full swing. Everyone is working unitedly to hold the gathering smoothly," Abdul Quddus, a member of Ijtema organising committee, told this correspondent.
Farhad Hossain, chief engineer of Public Health and Engineering Department of Gazipur, said apart from existing eight deep tube-wells, five more deep tube-wells have been installed on the ground to ensure water supply to the devotees.
Around 1,768 sanitary latrines, 25,000 semi-paka latrine and 3,000 temporary toilets have been set up around the ground, he said adding that construction of 416 sanitary latrines are under process of construction for using those in next year.
At least 10,000 sanitary latrines are needed to ensure sanitation in the event, he said.
A three-storey building has been set up this year for the first time to ensure sanitation and bath facilities to the devotees. Last year, the government had built seven two-storey buildings for the purpose.
Several special trains and a number of BRTC shuttle bus services will be arranged to ease the transportation.
Around 50 medical teams will work for providing treatment to the devotees free of cost while the number of seats in Tongi General Hospital has also been increased this time.
Engineering Corps members of Bangladesh Army will set up several floating bridges over the Turag to facilitate movement of the devotees, Kamal Uddin Talukder, deputy commissioner of Gazipur district, told The Daily Star.
Around 12,000 police and Rab personnel will be deployed to ensure security in and around the Ijtema ground while several hundred members of various intelligence agencies will be put in place.
Close-circuit television (CCTV) and video cameras will also be installed at different strategic points, he added.