Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has said that it was inappropriate to blame people of a particular community for the spread of the coronavirus in the country because of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in Delhi in March, The Indian Express reported on Monday.

“The original source of Covid-19 was in China,” Khattar told the newspaper. “It is not that it originated from Jamaatis.”

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference held in Nizamuddin area. It later emerged as a coronavirus hotspot. After the event, many participants returned home across the country while others travelled to meetings, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection.

However, Khattar said the Tablighi Jamaat congregation was a one-off incident and should not be seen in isolation. “Recently, there was a marriage in Hisar where 50 to 60 people got infected,” he added. “It is not appropriate to blame one group of people for the incident. It was just one incident which is over and now we must end the issue too.”

The chief minister added that most people who attended the event in his state have recovered. “People from all over the country were present in the congregation, including Haryana residents,” Khattar said. “There was a protest, some rumours were spread. We convened a meeting of 250 local heads of all religions and urged them to put an end to the rumours.”

Muslims have been the target of hate crimes ever since the event took place.Fake videos on social media platforms have claimed to show Muslim men spitting on food, licking plates and sneezing in unison to spread the virus. Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT Cell had also blamed Muslims for spreading the infection.

‘Don’t think pandemic will end soon’

Khattar said that he does not think the coronavirus pandemic will end anytime soon, but added that his government was trying to build people’s confidence. “I believe there is no Covid-19 panic among the people of the state,” he said.

The chief minister said the early days of the pandemic in March and April “were a big challenge”, adding that the government increased testing. “Currently, 12,000 to 13,000 tests are conducted every day,” he said. “If we test most of the people, we will be able to detect the positive cases early, which will improve their chances of recovery. We have also started plasma therapy and four plasma banks have been set up at Panchkula, Rohtak, Faridabad and Gurugram.”

He said the state’s recovery rate currently is at 77% and their mortality rate is low at 1.32%.

Khattar claimed the situation in Haryana has improved and the state is well-equipped to deal with the outbreak. “Of the 30,000 cases, over 23,000 have recovered in the state,” he said. “We have 1,500 isolation beds and 1,000 ventilators. We increase our hospital inventory as per the projections. That is why even now the beds in many hospitals in the state are vacant.”

Industries were hit hard due to the pandemic in the months of April and May, Khattar said. But he added that many industries opened in June and the percentage of industries opening further increased in July. “Around 10% to 20% of the industries are not running to full capacity as the labour has not returned,” he added.

So far, Haryana has recorded 29,690 coronavirus cases and 433 deaths.