After 2-Year Hiatus, Nizamuddin Markaz Reopens For Shab-e-Barat

File Phot of Nizamuddin Markaz

New Delhi- Two years after it was shut due to alleged violation of Covid norms, the Nizamuddin Markaz here reopened on Thursday for two days to allow devotees to offer prayers on Shab-e-Barat.

The Delhi High Court had on Wednesday allowed the reopening of three floors of the markaz, saying the management of the mosque will ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed by the visitors.

According to police, the doors of the Markaz were opened at around 12.30 pm.

"The doors of the Markaz were opened by police today in accordance with the high court order," said Fuzail Ahmed Ayubi, the counsel of management committee of the markaz.

Nizamuddin Markaz was at the centre of a controversy in March 2020 when after several people who attended a congregation held by Tablighi Jammat there contracted COVID-19. The markaz was shut thereafter.

In its order, the court noted that the ground floor and three other floors of the mosque building will be opened at 12 pm one day prior to Shab-e-Barat, which is on March 18, and will be closed the next day at 4 pm.

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri removed the restriction of putting a limit of 100 people on one floor and said it has been agreed that the management of the mosque will ensure that COVID-19 protocols and social distancing will be followed while allowing devotees to enter the mosque to offer namaz.

The court has ordered the markaz management committee to follow the Feburary 26 Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) guidelines in which wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, hand hygiene and ventilation in closed spaces is directed to be observed.

The counsel said that the management committee will strictly follow all DDMA guidelines, and crowding will not be allowed.

"The committee will follow all DDMA guidelines. All Covid guidelines, including maintaining social distancing and wearing of mask, will be followed. Thermal screening will be put in place and it will also be ensured that no crowding takes place in the premises," Ayubi said.

The court was hearing an application by the Delhi Waqf Board seeking that the mosque be opened in view of Shab-e-Barat and Ramzan in March and April.

It listed the matter for March 31 to decide on the issue of reopening the mosque during Ramzan which will begin from April 2.

The counsel for the board had earlier said that the mosque, which is under the lock of Delhi Police, should be opened as the DDMA has now lifted all restrictions that were imposed on account of the pandemic.

Several FIRs were registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, the Foreigners Act and various provisions of the penal code in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat event held at the Nizamuddin Markaz and the subsequent stay of foreigners there during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

In its application, the board said last year on the two occasions -- Shab-e-Barat and Ramzan -- the high court had permitted prayers in the mosque.

It said the current strain of COVID-19, Omicron, was not as severe and fatal as the Delta variant and as the conditions have improved, physical hearings of all courts have resumed, schools, clubs, bars, and markets have also reopened, therefore, there is no impediment to direct reopening of this waqf property.

The application was filed in the board's petition which has sought the reopening of the premises and contended that even after 'unlock one' guidelines permitted religious places outside containment zones to be opened, the markaz -- comprising the Masjid Bangle Wali, Madarsa Kashif-ul-Uloom, and attached hostel -- continues to be locked up.

On April 15, 2021, the court had allowed 50 people to offer namaz five times a day at Nizamuddin Markaz during Ramzan, saying there is no direction in the DDMA notification to close down places of worship.

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