Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party legislator MP Renukacharya on Wednesday attacked the members of Tablighi Jamaat, suggesting they should be shot dead for evading tests and spreading Covid-19 in the country. The group had organised a religious congregation in Delhi last month and later it emerged as an infection hotspot with more than 1,000 positive cases of coronavirus in India linked to it.

“[Members] of the Tablighi Jamaat are not coming out for medical checkups and is escaping detection, [but] the government should not ignore them,” Renukacharya said. “Even if he’s shot, it’s not wrong. Otherwise, the virus will spread in entire country. In China it started with one person.”

Referring to those not reporting to the hospitals as “traitors”, the MLA said: “Spreading Covid-19 is also like terrorism, and all those who are spreading the virus are traitors.”

Renukacharya’s comments came a day after Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa warned state leaders of making statements against Muslims related to the coronavirus outbreak, The Indian Express reported. “Nobody should speak a word against Muslims,” the chief minister said. “This is a warning. If anyone blames the entire Muslim community for some isolated incident, I’ll take action against them also without a second thought.”

Meanwhile, the BJP MLA from Mahadevapura, Arvind Limbavali, on Tuesday said people who attended the religious event and are not turning up to hospitals for tests should be jailed. Limbavali is also the party’s general secretary of Karnataka.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference on March 9 and 10. Many also fanned out across the country to recruit people after this, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection at the conference. The health ministry on Sunday said that the religious gathering had pushed up the doubling rate of cases in India to 4.1 days from the estimated 7.4 days.

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 5,194 on Tuesday morning, with 149 deaths, the Union Health Ministry said. This is the biggest jump in both the number of cases and deaths.

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