The police in Uttar Pradesh have arrested nine clerics who went to hiding after attending the Tablighi Jamaat’s congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin – which has been declared a hotspot of the coronavirus infection and has trigged a massive search for contacts across states ­– last month, PTI reported on Thursday.

The clerics, who belong to Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha city, had been hiding in a madrassa in Sharavasti district after they returned from Delhi on March 13, Superintendent of Police Anup Kumar told the news agency. “They neither informed the administration about their presence, nor volunteered for the medial examination,” Kumar said. The clerics have been placed under quarantine in the madrassa itself.

The nine clerics have been booked under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease) of the Indian Penal Code.

Meanwhile, 7,177 first information reports have been registered in the case, Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said, according to ANI. “Till now, 287 foreign nationals [who attended the event] were found to be residing in Uttar Pradesh,” he added. “Out of these, the passports of 211 people have been seized.”

The official said that samples of 429 people in Uttar Pradesh who attended the event at the Nizamuddin Markaz have been sent for testing. However, the cases have not risen exponentially, as only eight Covid-19 cases have been reported since Wednesday, he added.

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The Uttar Pradesh Police also said passports of eight people from Iran, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom, who attended the religious gathering in Delhi, have been seized.

On Tuesday, the Delhi Police had registered a first information report against Tablighi Jamaat preacher Maulana Saad Kandhlawi – who had been untraceable – and others members of the outfit for organizing the congregation at Nizamuddin West Markaz earlier this month, risking coronavirus infection. However, in audio clips that emerged on Wednesday, he claimed to be in isolation in Delhi on a doctor’s advice.

Several state governments are tracing and identifying all those who attended the gathering. A large number of people in different states have already been placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure. Nearly 400 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the gathering.

This year so far, nearly 2,100 foreign visitors had come to India for Tablighi activities, and as of March 21, about 824 of them were conducting their activities in the country, the government had said. Additionally, there were about 1,746 persons staying in the mosque as on March 21, including 216 foreigners. 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 government had said.