Thousands of people in Brahmanbaria, a district in east-central Bangladesh gathered to attend funeral prayer of Khilafat Majlish leader Moulana Zubair Ahmad Ansari despite the ban on large gatherings during coronavirus lockdown. At the time of Ansari's death, Brahmanbaria was already under lockdown as Bangladesh imposed total lockdown on March 26 in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Tens of thousands of people collected for prayer service that happened at Jamia Rahmania Bertala Madrasa premises in Sarail at 10 am on Saturday. The nation recorded 15 fatalities, the highest number of single-day deaths on Friday.
Concerns were raised about the risk of spread of the virus as the gathering was stretched from madrasa premises to all the way till Dhaka-Sylhet Highway. Health Minister Zahid Malek declared the entire nation to be at risk of getting exposed from COVID-19 disease on Friday. The virus has spread to newer spots despite lockdown, he said in a media briefing. "The fatality rate is growing. Stay home to stay safe," he added.
Police kept on sidelines
Even though police were present, they were kept on the sidelines. Sarail Police Officer-in-Charge Md Shahadat Hossain informed that many people arrived from as far as Dhaka to attend the funeral prayer. "We never thought there would be this many people. There was nothing we could do once the crowd began streaming in," he said.
Islamic leader Ahmed Ansari who was also an Islamic scholar passed away at his residence in Brahmanbaria's Markas Para at the age of 59. Funeral conducted by his son Hafiz Moulana Asadullah was attended by top Islamic leaders of the district, madrasa students and ordinary people.
Local authorities did not clarify the massive turnout when the government has already imposed restrictions on large gatherings for prayers at mosque. Bangladesh has recorded 2,144 cases confirmed and 84 people died due to coronavirus so far.