Always bustling and teeming with people, Bhendi Bazaar was far from its normal appearance yesterday. A silence engulfed the area, as lakhs of members from the Dawoodi Bohra community went into mourning after they heard of the demise of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, the spiritual head of their community, owing to a cardiac arrest.

A large number of community members gathered at Bhendi Bazaar minutes after news of his demise broke out. Pic/Suresh K K
A large number of community members gathered at Bhendi Bazaar minutes after news of his demise broke out. Pic/Suresh K K

The 102-year-old leader, who passed away at his home Saifee Mahal in Malabar Hill, will be laid to rest at the Raudat Tahera mausoleum at Bhendi Bazaar today in the presence of over two lakh community members. Soon after the news emerged, more than 20,000 people gathered at Saifee Masjid on Friday and mourned their leader’s loss. For the spiritual leader’s his last rites, MiD DAY has learnt that around 1,500 Burhani guards will be present along the procession route to ensure law and order in addition to approximately 1,500 police personnel.

Commenting on the demise, the Syedna’s media associate Shaikh Qureish Raghib said, “The Syedna passed away this (Friday) morning and was to celebrate his 103rd birthday next month. The Dawoodi Bohra community will observe a 10-day mourning for the departed spiritual leader. As a mark of respect for the Syedna, all shops run by the community members shall remain closed for the next three days.”

Keeping in mind the crowds that would make their way to pay their respects, cops have begun planning for arrangements and have requested community members to follow the instructions sent to them through group SMS. In addition, cops have also requested for CCTV cameras to be installed and for 10 watchtowers in the area to help monitor the crowds.

Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash said, “We will be taking care of security along with the help of Burhani guards. I will be deploying about 1,500 cops for bandobast duty and will extend all necessary support.” Apart from the Burhani guards and cops, around 1,500 male and 530 female volunteers will be helping out in the arrangements and lending a helping hand to the authorities.

Shaikh Yusuf Plasticwala, the security head of the Burhani Guards, said, “This is a huge loss to the whole community as he was the one we all looked up to. I was making arrangements for the procession to commemorate his 103rd birthday. A huge crowd of more than 1.5 lakh people is expected to visit and we have a huge task on our hands.”