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Tabligh-e-Jamaat's Markaz emerges as coronavirus hotspot, its cleric booked


Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Tabligh-e-Jamaat's Markaz in Nizamuddin West has emerged as a hotspot of coronavirus as 24 people tested positive for COVID-19 following which a major area has been sealed and an FIR lodged against its cleric for violating government orders.
The police registered an FIR against Maulana Saad of the Nizamuddin centre under sections of Epidemic Disease Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating government orders on management of the markaz in relation to social, political or religious gathering.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 24 people who attended the religious congregation at Tabligh-e-Jamaat's Markaz earlier this month have tested positive for coronavirus, while 1,548 have been evacuated and 441 hospitalised after they showed its symptoms.
After the matter came to light, the Centre and the Delhi government swung into action to trace people who attended the congregation. Six people from Telangana and one from Jammu and Kashmir, who attended the event, died due to coronavirus.
The Centre said 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi activities since January 1 and all of them first reported at Tablighi Jammat's headquarters in Nizamuddin.
The Home Ministry also said a total of 303 Tablighi activists had symptoms of COVID-19 and were referred to different hospitals in Delhi.
In a statement, the Home Ministry also said so far 1,339 Tabligh Jamaat workers have been shifted to Narela, Sultanpuri and Bakkarwala quarantine facilities, as well as to LNJP, RGSS, GTB, DDU Hospitals in Delhi and AllMS, Jhajjar (Haryana). The rest of them are being screened for coronavirus.
In a digital press conference, Kejriwal said 1,107 people, who attended religious congregation in Nizamudddin West, have been quarantined.
The Delhi Police has cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin West.
Tablighi Jamaat workers, both foreigners as well Indians, indulge in preaching tours or 'Chilla' across the country throughout the year.
Various nationals, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan come for Tabligh activities.
All such foreign nationals report their arrival at Tablighi Markaz at Banglewali Mosque in Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi and then they are detailed for 'Chilla' activities to different parts of the country, the Home Ministry said.
While the Health Ministry said it was not the time to find faults and emphasised on implementing containment strategies, the arrangement of congregation, at a time when strict restrictions were in place in Delhi due to coronavirus, invited criticism.
Kejriwal slammed the organisers of the gathering, saying it was "highly irresponsible" on their part to hold such an event at a time when thousands have died in other countries due to the pandemic.
He said his government has already written to Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal recommending the registration of an FIR against the organisers and added any lapse in performance of the officers related to the case will not be tolerated and strict action will be initiated.
AAP MLA Atishi sought strong action against Markaz authorities "who organised a 3-day religious gathering, with 1000s of people from March 13-15, when Delhi government orders had expressly forbidden gatherings or more than 200 persons on 13th March itself".
She was joined by her party colleague and Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan who said on March 23, at midnight, he spoke to DCP (southeast) and ACP Nizamuddin that there were nearly 1,000 people stranded in and around the Markaz, then why did the police not make any arrangement to move them.
The Markaz in a statement said it has not violated any provision of law and offered its premises for setting up a quarantine facility.
The statement referred to the directive of the Delhi government to take legal action against the Markaz administration.
"During this entire episode, Markaz Nizamuddin never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi from different states. It did not let them violate the medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs or roaming on streets," the statement said.
It said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 'Janata Curfew' on March 22, the ongoing programme was discontinued immediately, but a large number of people were stuck in the premises due to the closure of railway services on March 21.
"Before the Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9 pm, the Delhi chief minister announced lockdown of Delhi beginning at 6 am on March 23 till March 31, thereby further diminishing any chances of these visitors availing road transport for their journey back home," the statement said.
The statement said around 1,500 people left the Markaz on March 23 by "availing whatever transport was available".
On the evening of March 23, the prime minister announced a nationwide 21-day lockdown, the statement said, adding there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions.
Residents of the area accused the administration and police of not heeding their complaints about a large number of people converging at the Markaz amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, eight people from Kyrgyzstan, who attended the congregation at Nizamuddin, were found at Delhi's Bharat Nagar on Tuesday and quarantined, police said.

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First Published: Mar 31 2020 | 10:40 PM IST

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