LAHORE - The first phase of the annual religious congregation concluded in Raiwind on Sunday with special prayers for the country and Muslims around the world.

Renowned scholar Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim led the concluding prayer on Sunday morning. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the three-day congregation and they left for their homes after the concluding prayers.

During the congregation, noted religious scholars from different countries including Bangladesh and India addressed different sessions of the gathering. They also urged the participants to follow the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to spread the message of Islam to people all over the world.

Emotional scenes were witnessed during the special prayer that lasted for a considerable time. Many of them were seen in tears during the prayer. Following the prayer, all the participants left back on buses, cars, trains, and other vehicles.

Second phase will take place from 7 to 10th

The annual Raiwind congregation has been divided into two phases because of massive participation of people. The first phase of the congregation began on October 31 after Asr prayer. People from Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, and Quetta divisions participated in the first phase. The second phase of the Raiwind Ijtema will begin on November 7. It will conclude on November 10 with special prayer.

Hundreds of thousands of people from Pakistan and other countries attended the annual congregation in Raiwind, about 36 kilometers from Lahore. On Sunday, more people from Lahore reached the venue in the morning to attend the special prayer.

Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim prayed to the Almighty for forgiveness of sins, freeing Pakistan from prevailing chaos, setting aside differences and making the country a strong and stable welfare state with trembling voice with tears in his eyes.

Special security arrangements were made by the law enforcement agencies to avert any untoward incident due to threat alerts. The police were manning entry and exits points of the venue besides a security cover all around it, the internal security and administration were handled by volunteers.

When the participants started leaving to their respective destinations, massive traffic congestion was observed at Raiwind Road and later at Multan Road and Ferozpur Road. All the roads leading to Raiwind were closed and one-way traffic was allowed to facilitate departure of huge number of vehicles from the venue.  Due to traffic congestion, commuters remained stuck for hours. Extra traffic wardens were deployed to deal with traffic mess. The traffic officers took several hours to restore normalcy on roads leading to Raiwind.

A spokesman for the city traffic police department on Sunday said that more than 800 traffic wardens were deployed in the locality to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic on the roads. He said the wardens diverted the flow of general traffic towards alternative routes.

Chief Traffic Officer Liaqat Ali Malik along with traffic officers supervised the arrangements to ensure smooth departure of all vehicles from the main venue. The CTO also lauded the efforts of Team Mobin Shaheed for ensuring best arrangements during the congregation particularly at the time of departure.

According to Lahore police, more than 2,000 officials including three SPs, 12 DSPs, and 33 inspectors were deployed on security duties during the Tableeghi Ijtima. DIG (Operations) Ashfaq Khan said the most important assignment of Lahore police was to provide maximum security to the Raiwind congregation.

“All possible efforts were made to ensure foolproof security for the participants with the coordination of different departments including the city district government,” he added. The DIG also appreciated the policemen for ensuring best security arrangements during the three-day congregation.

The participants in Raiwind congregation were allowed to enter the venue after complete body searches at three different places. As part of the security strategy, the police were used metal detectors, electric barriers, and walkthrough gates to check participants.

Police officials in plainclothes were also deployed among the participants to keep an eye on suspected elements. The police also intensified checking of passengers and vehicles at the exit and entry points of the metropolis. Special police desks were set up to guide and help the participants of the Raiwind congregation.