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March 31, 2020

CM Murad Ali Shah orders revoking FIRs against violators of congregation orders


March 31, 2020

Sindh’s chief minister has directed the provincial police chief to cancel all the FIRs registered against Pesh Imams and custodians of mosques for violating the code of conduct issued by the government for the Friday prayers’ congregations during the current lockdown imposed in view of the COVID-19 emergency.

Syed Murad Ali Shah issued this order on Monday during a meeting that he presided over at the CM House, where he held a discussion with religious scholars of different schools of thought.

“We, in consultation with leading doctors and Ulema of different schools of thought, had decided that due to the threat of coronavirus, the Friday prayers will be held only with the mosque’s imam, muezzin and Khadim, and two other people, but unfortunately, some people violated this code of conduct, resulting in the law taking its course,” said Shah.

He said that since the Ulema had voiced their concerns over the registration of cases against the violators, he was “directing the inspector general of police [IGP] to withdraw the FIRs registered against Pesh Imams and other people [of mosques] all over Sindh, with the request [to Ulema] to keep their Friday congregations limited to five people as has been agreed earlier”.

At the outset of the meeting, the chief executive had said that the first case of coronavirus was detected in Sindh on February 26, and he had held an emergency meeting the same day to decide schools and other educational institutions would be closed.

“The situation continued to worsen, and we kept following up on the situation in our meetings,” he said. He added that he had ordered a 15-day closure of government offices, restaurants and shopping centres, and finally decided on a complete lockdown in the province because the number of COVID-19 cases were increasing.

“Today we have 508 cases, including 171 cases of local transmission, which is why I’m requesting everyone to observe social distancing and avoid gatherings and congregations.”

Shah said that the decision to limit the number of people at congregational prayers was taken after a thorough discussion, debate and consideration with all the relevant stakeholders. “The objective is to save our people from this disease, and with the cooperation and support of Ulema, this has become possible,” he said.

“Alhamdulillah! Our mosques are open, Azaan is being recited there five times a day and congregations of limited people are also being held there. This is what is required there.”

The CM said that let the threat be over, as after that everything would return to normal. He once again urged Ulema to keep announcing from the minarets that congregations would be limited, urging the people to offer their prayers at home.

He said that had he not imposed a province-wide lockdown and taken other extraordinary measures, the virus would have caused serious damages in Sindh. “Yes, it hasn’t been eliminated, but we’ve slowed down its spread and contained it.”

He told the Ulema that the FIRs registered against the violators were being withdrawn and the surety money would be returned to the people who had already obtained bail from different courts. The scholars praised the CM’s efforts and assured him of their full support in the war on COVID-19.

The meeting was attended by Religious Affairs Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, CM’s adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary (CS) Mumtaz Ali Shah, IGP Mushtaq Mahar, Additional CS Home Usman Chachar and Prof Dr Abdul Bari.

The Ulema in attendance were Mufti Taqi Usmani, Mufti Imran Usmani, Mufti Zubair Usmani, Dr Adil, Maulana Imdadullah, Dr Saeed Sikandar, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, Mufti Rehman Amjad, Mufti Abid Mubarak, Mufti Rafi-ur-Rehman, Allama Shahenshah Hussain Rizvi, Mufti Yousif Kashmiri, Maulana Abdul Waheed and Mufti Abdur Rehman.