Dhaka: The first phase of Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of Muslims after Hajj, began on the bank of the Turag River at Tongi here after Fajar prayers on Friday.
The ijtema began with ‘a’m bayan’ (general sermons) by Jordanian Islamic scholar Maulana Sheikh Umar.
Thousands of Muslim devotees from 16 districts of the country have already thronged the venue to take part in the religious congregation. Devotees from 135 countries will also participate in the Ijtema.
The first phase of 53rd Biswa Ijtema will end on Sunday with the Akheri Munajat.
Police have taken a five-tier security measure for the Biswa Ijtema to ensure overall security.
Besides, special measures have been taken to ease the traffic system which will come into effect from the first days of the two phases of the congregation.
Around 50 CCTVs have been installed there to monitor the Ijtema ground and the adjoining areas, he said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway (BR) has made arrangements to operate special trains on different routes of the country to facilitate the movement of Muslim devotees of the Biswa Ijtema.
Earlier, there had been a hiccup over the joining of Indian scholar Maulana Saad Kandhalvi in the first phase of the Biswa Ijtema.
The opposition to the participation of the top Indian scholar of Tabligh Jamaat in the Ijtema by Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh had created a crisis over the congregation.
However, the dispute was settled following a government intervention. It was decided at a meeting at the Home Ministry on Thursday that Saad Kandhalvi will not join the Ijtema.
A large number of Tabligh Jamaat men put barricade on Airport Road intersection from 12 noon to 4:30 pm on Wednesday protesting the arrival of the Indian Tabligh Jamaat scholar to take part in the Biswa Ijtema following his controversial comments about religious issues, creating huge tailbacks in the area.
The second phase of Ijtema will be held from January 19 to 21. unb