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18 killed in Mumbai stampede as mourners gather for last glimpse of Bohra leader

Mumbai, Jan 18 (PTI): At least 18 people were killed and 40 injured when a stampede broke out in the Malabar Hill area where a huge crowd had gathered a little after midnight Friday to pay last respects to the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra community, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.

The Syedna, who died at the age of 102 of a cardiac arrest, was to have observed his next birthday in a few weeks.

Later in the day, the crowds swelled further to hundreds of thousands as the Syedna began his final journey, from his Malabar Hill residence, which is near the official residence of Maharashtra’s chief minister.

Dawoodi Bohra is a sect of Shia Muslims spread all over the world. One of the key principles of the sect is ”patriotism as part of the faith.”

The procession, which moved at a snail pace, around 10am from Saifee Mahal, under tight security arrangements. The body will be laid to rest at the Raudat Tahera mausoleum here at Bhendi Bazar later in the day.

Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin led the Namaz-e-Janaza of the late Syedna.

As scores kept joining the procession every minute, to get a last glimpse of the spiritual head as the casket proceeded through Walkeshwar Road in South Mumbai, the route was closed for traffic to allow easy passage.

Thousands of people from all walks of life joined hands to form a human chain across the road.

The body of the departed leader was placed in a flower-adorned casket draped with the national flag atop an open vehicle, escorted by policemen, immediate family and community heads.

Mohammed Burhanuddin, the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq of the worldwide Dawoodi Bohra community, was the eldest son of Syedna Taher Saifuddin. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1965.

He was credited with transforming Dawoodi Bohras into a vibrant community and honoured with highest civilian titles like the Star of Jordan and Order of the Nile by the respective governments of Jordan and Egypt.

Syedna was conferred Honorary Doctorates for his efforts in social and educational development by renowned institutes like Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Aligarh Muslim University and University of Karachi.