Winter cold, polluted water leave Ijtema attendees sick

Filth was visibly floating in the water used for cooking, leading to several cases of diarrhoea

Published : 13 Jan 2023, 11:01 AM
Updated : 13 Jan 2023, 11:01 AM

Devotees attending the Biswa Ijtema, the largest gathering of Muslims after the Hajj, are suffering from cold and fever amid the wintry weather as the congregation began in Tongi. Many have also come down with diarrhoea due to the filthy water used to cook food for the devotees on Friday.

Most of the diarrhoea patients sought treatment in the free medical camp adjacent to the Ijtema venue and at the Ahsanullah Master General Hospital.

Masud Rana, a native of Gazipur who is staying at section 1 of the Ijtema, said the water in the reservoir near toilet buildings No. 13 and 14 is visibly strewn with filth.

“Ijtema attendees are using the filthy water for drinking and cooking. Hence, they are suffering from diarrhoea and other diseases."

People who could not get a place inside the Ijtema ground are staying on pavements and open spaces, said Mobarak Hossain, a resident of Mymensingh.

Consequently, many are catching cold and fevers due to the foggy and chilly weather, he added. Some are also suffering from asthma attacks as a result of exposure to dust.

Md Khorshed Alam, a doctor at Hamdard Free Medical Camp, said they provided medical care to as many as 2,000 attendees. Most of them suffered from diarrhoea, asthma and fever.

As many as 1, 313 people received medical attention in the 24 hours to Friday afternoon, according to Mohammed Jahangir Alam, director of the Shaheed Ahsanullah Master General Hospital.

“As of now, 10 patients, including a foreigner, are admitted to the hospital. Three patients have been transferred to Dhaka for better treatment.”

Despite repeated attempts, Gazipur Public Health Executive Md Alamgir Hossain could not be reached for comment on the issue.

Biswa Ijtema began after the Fajr prayers on Friday. The first phase of the congregation will end on Sunday with a special prayer. The next phase will be held from Jan 20-22.

Followers of Moulana Md Zubayer are participating in the first phase while disciples of Delhi’s Moulana Saad Kandhalvi will attend the second phase.

The Ijtema ground was packed to the brim on Thursday, a day before the start of the event. The massive crowds caused severe traffic congestion on the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and nearby roads.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher