Delhi

Coronavirus | Officials of Tablighi Jamaat charged with defying restrictions

Scene at Nizamuddin Basti in New Delhi on Tuesday. More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from the area amid coronavirus scare while health workers and locals are being screened.

Scene at Nizamuddin Basti in New Delhi on Tuesday. More than 1,000 people have been evacuated from the area amid coronavirus scare while health workers and locals are being screened.   | Photo Credit: RV Moorthy

Over 400 people with COVID-19 symptoms hospitalised, over 1,000 quarantined.

With at least 24 of its occupants testing positive for the novel coronavirus, an Islamic centre in the national capital has turned out to be the latest hotspot of COVID-19. More than 400 people with symptoms were admitted to different hospitals and over 1,100 shifted to government-run quarantine facilities in Delhi alone over March 30 and 31, officials said.

Hundreds of others who returned home after staying at the centre over the last fortnight might have carried the virus to several States, authorities fear.

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Thousands of people from across the country, as well as from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia, attended a gathering at the centre earlier this month over a number of days, officials said.

A large number of them were stuck on the premises as the country went under lockdown on March 24. Markaz Nizamuddin is the international headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a puritanical Islamic sect.

The Delhi police on Tuesday registered a case against Maulana Saad and others of Tablighi Jamaat under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, read with Sections 269, 270, 271 and 120-B of the IPC, for violation of government directions in respect of restriction of gatherings and safety measures, including physical-distancing.

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The centre said in a statement that many participants could not disperse after all means of transport came to an abrupt halt on March 24, though it tried to make special arrangements with permission from the authorities. “Under such compelling circumstances, there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions till the situation becomes conducive to their movement or arrangements are made by the authorities,” the statement said.

Close community interactions in prayer, dining and travel among Tablighi Jamaat followers put them at a high risk of the contagion. Participants at the recent congregation included people from Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala — in cases already known.

One attendee, a Srinagar-based businessman, died of the disease on March 26. He had travelled by air, train and road to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and back to Jammu and Kashmir. At least 300 people who came in contact with him have been put under quarantine.

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Eleven people who returned to Kerala have been put under quarantine; six from Telangana who attended the congregation have died. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, six people who returned from the event have tested positive. The Assam government has asked people to voluntarily report themselves if they were present at the congregation. Around 300 people from the State attended the event. 

All symptomatic people still in Delhi were being tested for COVID-19. “We are still in the process of shifting people from the Markaz [the centre]. The symptomatic people are being moved to hospitals and the asymptomatic people are being moved to different government-run quarantine facilities,” a senior official of the Delhi Health Department told The Hindu. “The asymptomatic people are not being tested immediately, but we will be closely monitoring them. This is in keeping with the Central government’s guidelines,” the official said.

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Markaz acted irresponsibly by organising the congregation. 

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 7:43:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/coronavirus-1000-evacuated-from-nizamuddin-centre-sent-to-hospitals-quarantine-facilities/article31215063.ece

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