Several states on Tuesday began to look for those linked with a religious gathering held in Delhi’s Nizamuddin locality earlier this month after dozens of them began testing positive for Covid-19 in parts of the country in recent days.
The Telangana government, which on Monday reported deaths of six persons who attended the event, said on Tuesday that it had diagnosed 15 more people who attended the event, and their relatives, with the coronavirus.
Tamil Nadu reported at least 45 cases on Tuesday of people testing positive for Covid-19 after attending the congregation. Around 1,500 members from the state participated in the event, out of which 1,130 returned, and 515 have been identified, state Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands has quarantined nearly 1,800 people, including 75 passengers of two flights that had carried nine people who tested positive. The nine patients had been a part of the gathering in Nizamuddin.
The Gujarat Police said some people from the state had attended the congregation, adding that officials were looking for them. As many as 76 of these persons were from Surat alone and some were from Bhavnagar, officials told PTI.
The Assam government said it intends to quarantine 456 persons from the state who are believed to have been in and around a mosque in Delhi’s Nizamuddin locality where a number of Covid-19 cases may have originated.
The state government urged everyone from Assam who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation to immediately report to the nearest government hospital or call the helpline number 104. “Please treat this [the request] as very important,” state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted.
Sarma said the district administrations had been alerted to find out whether these people had returned to the state. “We are acting swiftly and in the best possible manner to quarantine all of them, as and when they reach Assam or those who may have reached,” Sarma said.
After a meeting with police and district officials in the afternoon, Sarma said all the 456 people would be quarantined by the evening. An update since then is awaited.
In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said 107 persons who attended the congregation had entered the state, and he had ordered authorities to identify them immediately. Police have identified some who are being taken to quarantine centres, he said. Thirty-six people have been identified in Bhopal and have been quarantined, district collector Tarun Pithode said.
Three persons in Odisha, who recently returned after attending the Nizamuddin congregation, have been put in quarantine, PTI reported. The state government is also trying to identify others who attended the event, state official Subroto Bagchi said.
In Meghalaya, police said seven people who attended the event had not yet returned, ANI reported. Five of them were in Delhi and two in Lucknow, and local authorities had been informed, police said. In Puducherry, six persons visited the Markaz, of which five are under observation, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said.
The Delhi Police said it had found eight foreigners in the city who turned out to have come from Markaz Nizamuddin. Seventeen people from Himachal Pradesh also attended the congregation, state police told PTI.
As Scroll.in reported, thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended a conference on March 9 and 10 in the densely populated Nizamuddin area of Delhi. Ten of the 17 confirmed cases in Tamil Nadu on March 30 were also of people who had participated in the congregation.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs said workers of the Tablighi Jamaat, foreigners as well as Indians, conduct the group’s activities across India throughout the year. They first normally report at the group’s headquarters in Nizamuddin, and then go to different parts of the country.
This year so far, nearly 2,100 foreign visitors had come to India for Tablighi activities, and as on March 21, about 824 of them were conducting their activities in the country, the ministry said. The government claimed it had shared details of all these workers with the police in states on March 21 for the purpose of screening and quarantine after some Covid-19 cases were found among them in Telangana.
Additionally, there were about 1,746 persons staying in the mosque as on March 21, including 216 foreigners, the ministry said. Besides, about 2,137 Indian workers have been identified across the country who were conducting the group’s activities, and they are being medically examined and quarantined, the ministry said. The Centre has asked police in states to trace the movement of all such workers.
The conference was organised by the Tablighi Jamaat preachers at the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid in Delhi. An Islamic evangelical organisation, the Jamaat, an offshoot of the Deobandi movement, has its presence in several parts of India and countries in South Asia and South-East Asia.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday described the religious gathering as “irresponsible” and said such an event should not have been organised amid the coronavirus pandemic. Kejriwal said that out of the total 97 cases in the national Capital, 24 had been to the Nizamuddin markaz.
Kejriwal said 1,548 people had been brought out of Nizamuddin Markaz and 441 of them were symptomatic. The others have been sent in quarantine, he said.
However, the mosque administration has claimed that it had not violated any quarantine protocol. The administration said that a large group of visitors were stuck at the mosque because the Centre had suspended all passenger train services across the country. They could not move out due to the janata curfew on March 22, and by the time it ended at 9 pm, the Delhi government had announced a lockdown, which made it difficult for visitors to return, the administration claimed.