Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is expected to travel from his headquarters in Mumbai to Sri Lanka’s hill resort of Bandarawela later this month.
The Syedna and his immediate family have been camping in Khandala since the lockdown began in Maharashtra. However, a spokesperson for the Syedna told The Indian Express that the Syedna had no travel plans at the moment.
Admiral Jayanath Colombage, who is additional secretary for foreign affairs in the office of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said that Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin is to arrive on June 21, and would be accorded all the welcome and protocol due to a “head of state”. He said the Syedna would stay in Bandarawela until the pandemic situation eases in India.
Sri Lanka was the earliest of all south Asian countries to lock down under a strict curfew, shut down the airport and suspend flights from abroad. The Sri Lankan Government would have to make an exemption for the leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
Officials at the Sri Lanka consulate in Mumbai confirmed that plans for Syedna’s family are under way but said they were not involved in making arrangements for the travel, The Indian Express reported.
Sources in Sri Lanka said he is to arrive with a 45-member retinue, including family members and staff, in a special plane.
At the Syedna’s permanent residence, Saifee Mahal, in Mumbai’s Malabar Hills, 13 Covid-19 positive cases have been detected since June 6. BMC officials said 40 people in the residence, spread over a vast area, were tested with help of Saifee hospital. The 13 positive cases are all in one of the three buildings in Saifee Mahal. The building has been sealed. Those who had developed symptoms or had comorbidities have been shifted to Saifee hospital.
A Dawoodi Bohra community spokesperson confirmed that several in Syedna’s Malabar Hill residence have tested positive, but said Syedna’s immediate family had left for Khandala and have been there for more than two months.
When asked about travel plans of Syedna, the spokesperson said, “As far as we are aware there are no travel plans at the moment.” When asked whether Syedna had approached the Sri Lankan government for permission to travel to that country, the spokesperson refused to comment. (Colombo Gazette)