NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday urged Muslims to observe Shab-e-Barat staying inside their homes and also suggested that the birth anniversary celebrations of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar be postponed to avoid a Nizamuddin congregation-like episode.
Pawar said Ram Navami, being observed on Thursday, is celebrated with fervour every year across the country.
“Unfortunately, there is this threat of coronavirus this year and we have to observe some restrictions…but I am sure people must be remembering Lord Ram staying inside their homes,” he said in his address via Facebook.
Pawar further said that congregation such as the one held last month in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area by Tablighi Jamaat could have been avoided, and urged people to ensure there is no repeat of such meetings on Shab-e-Barat.
“The Tablighi should have had avoided (organising) the event, but did not. The cost is being paid elsewhere. We should take care and see such incidents do not recur, he said.
The former Union minister said the “possibility of some people who attended the meeting carrying the disease cannot be ruled out” and pressed for maintaining discipline given the situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
He said the Shab-e-Barat, also known as the night of forgiveness, will be observed on April 8. Muslims visit graveyards on that day to remember their relatives who are no more, the NCP chief said and called for taking precautions to avoid gathering of people given the coronavirus crisis.
“I would request them (Muslims) to remember the relatives who are no more, staying inside the home. Offer Namaz inside homes. It is not the time to visit graveyard togetherand ensure there is no repeat of the Nizamuddin-like episode,” he added.
Pawar also noted that the birth anniversary of Constitution’s architect Dr B R Ambedkar is celebrated with enthusiasm on April 14 every year.
He, however, questioned if the present time is the right occasion to celebrate the anniversary by gathering in big numbers, given the coronavirus threat.
“But, time has definitely come to think whether the celebration can be postponed. All sections of the society may have to face some (health) issue if we come together in large number (to mark the anniversary),” Pawar said.
We should remember Babasaheb, his contribution. But savant people should think if its period (of celebrating the anniversary) can be changed this time, he added.
The NCP president noted in general, 90 per cent people have been observing the lockdown, but 10 per cent are not doing so.
He also said there is no shortage of food grains and vegetables in the country and yet people are seen venturing out of homes in big numbers to buy the essential commodities, fearing they will be out of stock.
“The Centre and the state government will have to take steps to extend the lockdown if we do not take enough precautions during this period and the spread of the disease continues. So, please let all of us adhere to all the guidelines strictly…we should face the crisis with a spirit to defeat it, he said.
Pawar also advised youngsters to read books during the lockdown period and listen to what they like to develop their personality.
He praised Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the state administration and police for working round-the-clock, and asked people to cooperate with them by staying at home.
The Maratha strongman urged people to avoid arguments with police during lockdown and asked doctors to keep their hospitals open for outside patients during the crisis hours.
He also took questions from people during the address via Facebook.
The questions were read out to him by his daughter and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule (who was not visible in the frame).
One of the questions came from Maharashtra minister and NCP leader Aditi Tatkare, who raised concerns over the levying of 12.5 per cent GST on ventilators used during the current health scare, and called for reducing it.
Replying to it, Pawar said the Maharashtra government has requested the Centre to reduce the GST on ventilators.
“The states Finance Minister, Ajit Pawar, has made some suggestions to the Union finance ministry. We are trying to resolve this issue. But as we try to get the GST reduced, efforts to make the ventilators available now should not be stopped,” he added.