Hasanul Banna Joy
Every year, the Urs or the so called ‘religious gathering’ at the Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif is held much to the discomfort of the people who live in the nearby places. This year the two day long Urs was held on 7 and 8 February despite a volatile political situation. It seems the Shahbagh movement, Jamaat sponsored violence, etc had no influence to the followers of Kutub Bagh as they came in large numbers to make the programme a success. Cashing on the religious sentiment of the people, the pir or the self proclaimed ‘religious leader’ Jakir Shah is leading this Darbar Sharif and doing brisk business under the protection of some influential ministers.
Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif is situated in Indira Road in Farmgate and many regard Jakir Shah as a fake pir who is also called as ‘Baba’ by his followers. To make their annual Urs a success, they collect money from the followers and also take donations from influential people. They make arches with decorative green and white cloth. These makeshift arches have been adorned with big, bright fairy lights. Khamarbari and Manikmia Avenue have been made into haat of sacrificial animals as goats, cows and camels are collected from donors. The smell of cow dung and camel’s urine made the thick air stinky. Behind these cows and camels that are going to be slaughtered during the Urs, the authority also prepare makeshift shops to sell various products of this fake pir; such as perfume, soap, candle, etc. They do brisk business by selling such products. The cheating does not end here. From this year, they are even collecting pigeons as donations. Although they announced that they would only accept goat, camel and cows as donations; but from this year, pigeons are also in the list of their sacrificial products!
An inhabitant of the busy area who wishes to remain anonymous told that the ‘Baba’ has quite a fan-following, which include politicians and other influential persons. And Jakir takes various gifts like cow, camel, goat etc from the fans. But initially he didn’t take hen, pigeon or other low-priced items as gifts. But from this year, he has bent his own set of rules and asked his ‘khadems’ to collect whatever his fans want to donate. Various media wrote about their business and now they have changed their rules. A fan of Jakir told that “It’s wrong statement that we do not get less priced thing .If you want to sacrifice 10 tk we would take it’. But when his attention was drawn about last year’s Urs where they refused to accept pigeon or hen as sacrificial animals, he kept silent.
Without having any permission from Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) to make arches in the middle of such a busy road, Jaker’s followers have been doing this defying law. A policeman commented that he has asked someone from the Kutub Bagh Darbar Sharif about the arches and he has been told that the Darbar has taken permission from the authority concerned. But when this reporter asked a DCC official about this, he could not answer who gave this permission eventually.
A visitor form Kalabagan said, “Jakir’s finger therapy defies science and Islam, and everyone is not happy with his antics. My uncle took antics for a critical disease but it did not work. But most of his fans spreads that he has a spiritual power to make them cured from disease. I think it’s a major sin and there is no such thing as curing people with the finger in our religion. It’s absurd and clean cheating with people.”
Another dwellers of this place alleged that during the Urs they create huge noise and students and the patients suffer most. “Last years I could not sleep whole night for the loud sound from the Urs.”
The educated and conscious people of Farmgate and Manik Mia Avenue feel that the government should take action against such self declared pirs who are misguiding general people in the name of Islam. Furthermore, they also believe that such a ‘showdown’ in the name of Urs is unprecedented and should not be allowed considering the sufferings of the nearby people who get affected due to it.
Note: All the photos are taken by the writer