KOLKATA: Several mosques in West Bengal have opened their premises to the faithful over the past few days, after initially having expressed apprehensions over their safety, amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state, a member of the imams' association said.
The government has granted permission to all places of worship to unbolt their doors to the devotees from June 1, while stressing that safety protocols have to be strictly followed at all shrines.
Prominent temples, gurdwaras, and churches, in keeping with the government guidelines, have thrown open the gates since the beginning of the month, while some religious places have sought time to ensure that all safety protocols were in place, before allowing the devotees inside.
Centuries-old Dakshineswar Kali Temple, which is yet to unlock the gates of the shrine, said it would do so after conducting a trial with a few members of the management before taking a decision.
The administration at the Kalighat temple in the city said it was chalking out a plan to ensure that devotees face no problems during entry or exit.
Bengal Imams' association had said on June 1 that mosques would be opened in due course of time.
At least 50,000 mosques across the state have been asked to conduct prayers inside the compound, with not more than 10 people at a time, a member of the Wakf Board said.
Shafique Qasmi, the imam of Nakhoda Masjid in the city, said, "We opened the mosque a few days ago, allowing up to 25 persons during prayer."
The imams had earlier asked the devout to refrain from crowding at the mosque and had written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking clarifications with regard to the implementation of the safety protocol.
"We have kept sanitizers at strategic points and asked people to maintain distance from one another," he said.
A spokesperson of the Bengal Imams' Association said most mosques, especially the ones with limited space, were not allowing more than five to 10 people during namaz.
"To our knowledge, mosques are allowing up to 10 people during prayers. I don't think the numbers will increase further for now," the spokesman said.