BRITAIN’S biggest annual Islamic gathering will take place this weekend (July 28-30) at East Worldham, near Alton, when 35,000 Muslims will gather in a tented village at Hadeeqatul Mahdi, formerly Oaklands Farm, for the annual three-day Jalsa Salana.
But this year’s preparations have been overshadowed by a tragic road accident which took place near the site last Friday when a pedestrian was seriously hurt in a collision with an lorry.
Police are appealing for witnesses following the incident, which happened around 3.05pm when a Scania lorry struck a 35-year-old man on Green Street (the stretch of the B3004 between Worldham Hill and Kingsley).
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service crews from Alton and Bordon were called to free the stricken pedestrian while South Central Ambulance Service dispatched a road crew which treated the man at the scene before he was flown by air ambulance to University Hospital Southampton where he is being treated for life-threatening injuries.
Speaking of the sadness that had shaken the community, Dr Basharat Nazir, a spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, confirmed that the HGV driver was approaching Oaklands Farm when the incident occurred.
In a statement, he said: “It was a very sad, tragic road traffic accident that occurred on the main B3004 road. He was one of our members, who was driving and approaching Oaklands Farm (Hadeeqatul Mahdi). The incident was not directly connected with the Jalsa Salana; the pedestrian was a road user at the time on the B3004 who encountered this catastrophe.
“Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends.”
The driver of the HGV, a 38-year-old man from Tamworth, Staffordshire, has been arrested in connection with the incident.
Police are appealing for any witnesses, or anyone who may have dashcam footage, to call 101, quoting Operation Galvanise.
n Motorists using the B3004 Alton to Kingsley road this weekend should expect delays, according to organisers, especially at the beginning and end of each day of the three-day festival.
Peak times are expected to be during arrival times – from 10am to 2pm on Friday and 9am to 11am on Saturday and Sunday – and departure times – from 6pm – but these will be staggered.
As in previous years, the majority of car parking will be at Country Market in Kingsley, with bus shuttles operating to and from the convention site. Bus shuttles will also operate from Alton train station.
On-site parking will be mainly for disabled visitors and workers, and on-site security will include tight management of vehicles entering and leaving the site, to keep traffic build up on the roads to a minimum.
For more details, visit the website jalsauk.org or call the hotline on 01420 87222.