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Lockdown to extend till the end of May due to Ramzan: Sources from the Home Ministry

By Yusuf Ansari, TwoCircles.net

As the Corona grips the nation tighter with 23,502 cases and 722 deaths on April 24, sources from the Ministry of Home Affairs  (MHA)speculate a longer lockdown period. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is set to begin from April 25 in the country, adding to the fears of disrupting social distancing norms, hence, leading the Ministry to further extend the nationwide lockdown till the end of May.

 It has been speculated that if the lockdown is lifted on May 3rd, the Muslim community will return to its congregational prayers which are routine to Ramadan, thus, disturbing the positive changes that the lockdown has brought in terms of spread of the coronavirus. Considering the crowds in markets for Eid shopping and other ritualistic gathering in the late evenings, authorities have deemed it necessary to extend the lockdown as it would become impossible to maintain social distancing in the holy month.

After reviewing the above, Ulemas and Muslim organizations jointly want the lockdown to continue till Ramadan ends. Chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed of the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANU) has written a letter to Prime Minister Modi for considering the extension of lockdown till May 24, instead of May 3, thus ensuring everyone stays home and safe for the whole month of Ramadan. Although many are yet to add their views, most Muslim organizations have given a nod to the it, many have even welcomed the idea. The MHA is continuously monitoring situation of states through its Central team of officials despite questions on its strict adherence have been rising from states, including Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s objection to the decision of Central team of officials.

According to sources in the MHA, the lockdown would be extended in two phases – first from May 3rd till May 17th and later from May 17th to May 31st, during which additional services would be exempted. All religious observations and occasions, however, will remain suspended. The sources reveal that during announcement of lockdown extension, it would be kept in mind not to single out Ramadan as the reason for it, as it would send out a wrong message that the government is trying to ban a particular community. Rather, it would be notified that the second week of May marks another rapid infection phase for coronavirus and to contain it from spreading, the lockdown would be enforced.

Preparations for the same have started in various states. Telangana has already issued a statement for extension of the lockdown till May 7 while Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has said there can be no relaxation in Delhi considering the rising number of corona positive cases. State borders in the UP have been completely sealed as 40 villages in the state have been reported to be hotspots.

All the above instances point that Ramadan and Eid this year would be observed in the confines of our homes, in the best interest of all communities and safety of all. Although Ulemas are yet to give a direct statement, many Muslim organizations are endorsing the idea of a full month lockdown till May 31st. Darul Uloom Deoband, along with other cleric groups have, however, unequivocally supported the strict following of government guidelines by praying at homes in the holy month.