DHAKA Â - The first phase of the 53rd Biswa Ijtema began after the Fazr prayer today on the bank of river Turag at Tongi in Gazipur amid general sermon (am bayan).
Several lakhs devotees from home and abroad took part at the Jumma prayer held on the Ijtema ground. Senior Islamic scholar of Kakrail mosque Hafez Mawlana Mohammad Zubaer led the prayer.
Politicians and senior government officials including Liberation War Affairs Minister Advocate AKM Mozammel Haq, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Rasel, Gazipur City Awami League President Advocate Azmat Ullah Khan and Deputy Commissioner of Gazipur Dr Dewan Mohammad Humayun Kabir, among others, took part in the prayer.
After the Fazr prayer, the formal Ijtema began with general sermon delivered by Mawlana Shaikh Omar Khatib from Jordan.
The general sermon was given in Arabic language for the first time while Mawlana Saleh translated it.
Bangladeshi Islamic scholars Mawlana Mohammad Hossain gave sermon after the Jumma prayer while Mawlana Abdul Bari and Mawlana Mohammad Rabiul Haq gave sermons respectively after the Asar and Magrib prayer.
Senior most Islamic scholars from the Tablig Jammat will give sermons on Akhlak, Iman and Amal till Sunday, the last day of three-day Ijtema.
"Muslim devotees from 32 districts across the country will take part in the two phases of the Ijtema. The first phase will be attended by the devotees from 16 districts and devotees from other 16 districts will attend at the second phase," said Engineer Gias Uddin, an organizer of the Ijtema.
About four crore liters pure drinking water to be supplied through fifteen deep tube-wells to the devotees, said Zahid Ahsan Rasel, adding that adequate number of toilets and bathrooms have been set up for the Ijtema devotees.
A total of seven floating bridges have already been set up on the river of Turag for easing movement of the devotees, said the Deputy Commissioner of Gazipur.
A total of 3,919 devotees from 79 different countries have already reached at the Ijtema maidan, he added. Ten mobile courts are working in two phases on the Ijtema ground to maintain law and order, said the DC.
As many as 7,000 police personnel have been deployed in the Ijtema area to ensure security of the devotees, said Police Super of Gazipur M Harun-Ar Rashid. Besides metal detectors for checking the suspected militants on the exit of the Ijtema venue, 15 watching towers and 41 close circuit cameras will carry out surveillance there, he added.
Separate control rooms for district administration, police, RAB and Fire Service have been set up to keep vigil on the Ijtema situation, said the Police super.
Special train services have been launched during the Ijtema and each and every train will make stopover for two minutes at Tongi Railway Station, said the railway sources.
Uninterrupted electricity supply has been ensured on the Ijtema ground by operating five feeder lines, said the power division authority.