Coronavirus: Pakistan cleric booked for gathering 400 people for Friday prayers despite ban

PTI Islamabad | Updated on April 05, 2020

A traffic police officer walks past barriers used to block the road in front of the British era Empress Market building, during a lockdown after Pakistan shut all markets, public places and discouraged large gatherings amid an outbreak of coronavirus disease, in Karachi, Pakistan April 3, 2020.   -  REUTERS

A case has been registered against a cleric in Pakistan for gathering around 400 people for Friday prayers at a prominent mosque here, despite a ban on such religious congregations imposed by the authorities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The deadly virus has infected more than 2,800 people and claimed over 40 lives in Pakistan.

According to the Dawn newspaper, a case was registered against former Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and six others for disobeying a government order and gathering people at the mosque for Friday prayers.

Around 400 people had gathered at the mosque, the report said on Sunday, adding that police officials deployed around the mosque informed the cleric of the ban on prayer congregations and the misuse of loudspeakers, but he ignored.

Aziz was also charged for spreading fear and inciting people against the state, it said.

The case was registered on Friday. However, no arrest has been made so far.

In a similar case, a ‘khateeb’ (a person who delivers sermons during Friday prayers) was arrested for violating the government order on prayer congregations.

The ‘khateeb’ and his two aides had gathered 200 people in Bilal Masjid here for Friday prayers, police said.

A case has also been registered against the two aides, who are currently absconding, they said.

The capital administration has asked police to compile data on mosques, ‘khateebs’ and imams who violate the ban on prayer congregations.

A total of 121 cases of disobeying the administration’s order have been registered in Islamabad since the ban was announced in March-end.

Also, some 424 people have been arrested for violating the ban on various activities, including social and public gatherings, riding pillion, driving passenger vehicles and hoarding essential commodities, police said.

These restrictions have been put in place to combat the coronavirus crisis.

Published on April 05, 2020

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