Our Gazipur Correspondent : Biswa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of the Muslims after hajj, begins today (Friday) at the bank of the Turag River in Tongi. The Ijtema, being organised by Tablig Jamaat since 1946, is going to be held in two phases–one during January 24-26 and the other during January 31-February 2. Devotees from 32 districts will attend the 1st phase of Ijtema. The districts are Dhaka, Gazipur, Sirajganj, Narsingdi, Faridupur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Kishoreganj, Rangpur, Natore, Sherpur, Rajshahi, Gaibandha, Joypurhat, Lalmonirhat, Habiganj, Sylhet, Dinajpur, Chandpur, Feni, Chittagong, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Bandarban, Bagerhat, Kushtia, Narail, Chuadanga, Jessore, Bhola, Barguna and Jhalakati. The devotees of 33 other districts (including Dhaka) will attend the second phase Biswa Ijtema. Organisers said some 30 lakh devotees, including 30,000 from about 100 foreign countries, are likely to attend the 1st phase Biswa Ijtema this year. They said, all preparations have already been completed for smooth holding of the Biswa Ijtema. Working round the clock for nearly two months, thousands of volunteers prepared the venue on 160 acres of land to accommodate the devotees. Members of Bangladesh Army have constructed eight pontoon bridges across the Turag River to facilitate the movement of devotees. The congregation, also called the World Muslims’ Congregation, will start formally with religious sermons after Fajr prayers Friday andit will end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on Sunday. Several lakh Muslims are expected to attend the Juma prayers at the Ijtema venue today. While visiting the venue on Thursday, it was seen river Turag banks are already swarmed in thousands by devotees. Some 10,000 law enforcers, including 1,000 Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) men, have already been posted at the Ijtema venue to ensure foolproof security, said police super of Gazipur Abdul Baten. He also said 14 observation towers have been set up to watch public movement while 60 close-circuit television cameras installed at the entrances of the venue. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has arranged special bus services on the occasion of Biswa Ijtema. Some 300 BRTC buses, including double-decker ones, started operation on January 21 in order to provide additional transportation facility to the devotees and reduce the pressure on other public transports during the Ijtema and The BRTC buses will operate on different roads across the country until February 3. President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia have issued separate messages on the occasion. In his message, the President said, “I believe Biswa Ijtema will play a significant role in strengthening peace, unity, solidarity andfraternity of the Muslim Ummah.” In her message, the Prime Minister expressed the hope that the great religious congregation will play a significant role in establishing peace in the world. “It will strengthen the unity, solidarity and fraternity of the people of the country and the world as well as the Muslim Ummah.” Khaleda Zia, in her message, prayed to the almighty Allah so that all the people of the world can lead a happy and joyful life being freed from confrontation and violence.