Mumbai's politicians want religious places to open with strict COVID-19 guidelines

Updated: Jul 11, 2020, 06:59 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Political leaders from Congress, BJP and Samajwadi Party say relaxations will give solace to the faithful among all religions

Devotees crowd outside the Siddhivinayak temple. File pic
Devotees crowd outside the Siddhivinayak temple. File pic

Prominent leaders from across parties have demanded that the state government reopen places of worship, allowing people of all faiths to pray to the almighty for the much-needed strength amid the pandemic.

Vice president of Congress's city unit Dr Amarjit Singh Manhas, city BJP president Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Samajwadi Party state president Abu Asim Azmi have requested Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar to announce further relaxations for the religious place. They said the state should allow people to once again start worshipping at temples, gurdwaras, mosques, synagogues and churches, while following strict COVID-19 guidelines.

As part of Unlock 1.0, the central government had in June first week allowed religious places to reopen, but many states preferred to keep them shut fearing further spread of the novel Coronavirus. Maharashtra, where the cases are highest in the country and are still on the rise, too, have kept the religious sites closed.

In a letter to the CM on Friday, Manhas cited spiritual and economical reasons to reopen the religious places, like West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka and others did. "The citizens can share their pain to their creator and seek help from the almighty to come out of this depression and calamity," he said.

Dr Amarjit Singh Manhas, V-P, city Congress
Dr Amarjit Singh Manhas, V-P, city Congress

He said the religious places were also hit financially by the sudden drop in footfall. "Most of the places of worship manage their expenses, like the staff's salary, electricity and water bills, property tax, on donations by the devotees, which has stopped for the past few months, and it may have become difficult for them to manage the expenses," he added.

Lodha, the MLA from Malabar Hill, has also urged Thackeray to reopen places of worship. "This is the time for seeking mental and spiritual strength. The government may enforce norms of physical distancing, even if for a limited time in a day," he said.

'Mission Begin Again' has allowed shops, markets, bus services, etc, to restart in a phased manner, Lodha wrote to the CM. "The government has also permitted hotels to recommence operations with conditions," he added. SP's Azmi met Pawar with party legislator Rais Shaikh earlier this week and asked for the permission to reopen the religious places and allow the customary slaughter of goats on Bakri Eid later this month. Azmi also want the sale the animals decentralised, instead of a single-trading point — Deonar abattoir — in order to cover a larger Muslim population.

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