Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath on Saturday claimed that the Tablighi Jamaat was responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in the state and other places, PTI reported. “Being infected with a virus is not a crime, hiding it is definitely a crime,” he said.

Till Sunday afternoon, Uttar Pradesh reported 2,487 cases of the coronavirus and 43 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Adityanath condemned the Tablighi Jamaat meet and said if the attendees had “not hidden the disease and gone about it like its carriers”, the government would have controlled the outbreak to a large extent.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference held in Nizamuddin in Delhi in March. Later, it was discovered that the Tablighi Jamaat was a coronavirus hotspot. Instances of discrimination against Muslims have increased in India since the news of this spread.

“Action will be taken against them [Tablighi Jamaat members] for the crime they have committed,” Adityanath said.

Remarks by other CMs too

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, too, blamed the religious congregation and said the number of coronavirus cases started increasing in the state around April 15, as “people related to Jamaat” hid their links with the event, India Today reported.

Rupani said Ahmedabad is divided into Old Ahmedabad and New Ahmedabad. “New Ahmedabad has 90% population and Old Ahmedabad has 10%. But because Jamaat people hid their travel links, Old Ahmedabad has reported 90% of corona [virus] cases.”

Gujarat has so far recorded 5,054 cases and 262 deaths, the Ministry of Health said. Surat has also been badly hit with 661 positive cases so far. “In Ahmedabad and Surat, the Tablighi Jamaat people travelled extensively and hid their travel history. They met many people causing wide-scale spread of Covid-19 there,” Rupani said.

He said cases are now reducing in Ahmedabad and the recovery rate has increased, adding that the Gujarat government “was transparent in releasing figures”. More than 500 teams have deployed in Surat and Ahmedabad and they have been carrying out door-to-door surveys.

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, too, had blamed the Tablighi attendees for the rise in coronavirus cases in his state. Chouhan had told The Print, “The Tablighi Jamaat members in Madhya Pradesh came back and scattered into many corners, responded reluctantly and did not come forward willingly to share information.”

Meanwhile, India has been facing backlash in international circles over the increasing number of crimes against Muslims amid the pandemic. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had urged the Indian government to take steps to protect Muslims who are being “negatively profiled”. Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that “unity and brotherhood” must be the response to the coronavirus, which does not see “race, religion, caste before striking”.

Corrections and clarifications: This article has been updated with the correct numbers on the toll in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.