SRINAGAR: Falling in two different areas and living around 300 km apart, the two men who died on Sunday in Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and Una (Himachal Pradesh) shared many things. Both were Gujjars and both of them were suspected of having contracted Covid-19 infection from individuals who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi.
Interestingly, both had tested negative. The only difference was that unlike the 75-year old man, who died a natural death in the quarantine centre at Udhampur, Dilshad Ahmad, the Una Gujjar died at home after committing suicide.
The Udhampur Case
Officials at Udhampur said the aged person had been shifted to the quarantine centre along with his brother a few days back after it was established that they have had contact with a resident of Magheni village, who had earlier tested positive. “He had tested negative but the old man died a natural death,” a senior doctor from Udhampur told Kashmir Life on phone. “He has been at the home a person, who tested positive and is currently admitted to an isolated ward in a Jammu hospital, and that was the reason why he was kept in quarantine.”
Piyush Singla, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur was quoted saying that the person died Saturday night and the results of his test came Sunday morning. At least three persons from Narsoo village had tested positive on Saturday. In a quick follow-up, Narsoo and Chunti villages were declared red zones as per the protocol. “The man was asymptomatic and was shifted to one of the best available quarantine facilities given his age and close contact with the positive case. He did not have any major health problem except old-age related issues,” Singla said.
The Una Suicide
Unlike the Udhampur resident, the Himachal’s Dilshah Muhamad’s case is different. As per the report that Chandigarh based The Tribune used from Dharamsala, Dilshad committed suicide after “villagers allegedly taunted him over the spread of Coronavirus post the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi.” On Sunday morning, his family found Dilshad hung to the roof of his room in Bangarh village.
A person belonging to a BPL family, Dilshad was supplying milk to the surrounding localities. During this routine, he had reportedly come in contact with two persons, who had attended the Markaz congregation in Delhi. On April 2, the police came and took him to the Una hospital for the test. He tested negative and was driven home in an ambulance.
His mother Usha Devi and wife, Amardeep Kaur, told the newspaper that even though he had not gone to Delhi and that he was tested negative, the villagers boycotted and insulted him. “Devi said that he met all family members on Sunday morning, offered namaz and then went inside a room,” the newspaper reported. “When he did not come out for long, the family members broke open the door and found him hanging.”
Earlier, The Indian Express reported that only around one-fifth of the overall Covid infections in India is linked to the Tablighi congregation. In a quick follow-up, the authorities in almost every state launched a massive contact tracing operation.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the Tablighi connection, surfaced much later after the Qom (Iran) and Riyadh (Saudi) infections exploded in Leh and Srinagar. Authorities have been working day and night to trace every single person who had some connection with the Delhi congregation. Kashmir’s first victim of the disease was a businessman preacher who had attended the Delhi function.
Across Jammu, the newspaper Daily Excelsior reported, police traced around 125 persons who had hidden travel history and number of them belonged to Tablighi Jamaat including those who had attended organization’s international congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi. “All of them, according to sources, have been kept under quarantine at different centres,” the report said. “Police had yesterday registered an FIR in Ramgarh police station of Samba district against two persons for hiding travel history.”
The two persons against whom a police case was registered were members of the Jamaat who were traced in a mosque in Doulat Chak area of Ramgarh. They were part of the 10 Rohingya refugees had attended the Delhi congregation. Of them, seven were living in Kathua and three in Jammu. After attending the Nizamudin congregation, newspaper reports said they had later visited another meeting at Mewat (Haryana) and Hyderabad.
The Tribune quoted an official saying: “Four of the traced Rohingya are suffering from viral load fever. All 10 persons have been sent to a quarantine centre for observation”.
“Sources said the authorities had already prepared a list of 850 Coronavirus suspects, who had directly or indirectly come in contact with people who had attended the Nizamuddin congregation,” the newspaper reported. “They said teams had been deputed to trace all suspects. The administration has already completely sealed the Bhatindi, Sunjwan, Gujjar Nagar, Hyderpura and Lakarmandi areas.”
Meanwhile, the authorities have successfully traced 23 persons of Rajouri district, including two already declared positive, who were part of the Delhi congregation. Reports suggest that 19 of them are in institutional quarantine. The district has three Covi-d19 positive cases.
A police case was also registered in Kashmir against a resident of Aloosa (Bandipora) for concealing his travel history. The case (FIR 29/2020) was registered under section 188, 270 IPC and the investigation will be taken up once the Tablighi Jammat member comes out of the quarantine at the Chiternar facility.
The individual, who named has not been revealed, is accused of keeping his travel history secret after his Delhi return on March 20. Later, he had attended another religious gathering at a local mosque for five days.
The Tribune newspaper quoted the authorities saying that they are tracking “around over 500 people who had either attended the religious gathering at Nizamuddin or were staying in that locality”. The government has the information that “at least 100 persons” from Jammu and Kashmir had participated in the 3-day congregation. These include 11 from Kupwara, 93 from Pulwama, 249 from Bandipore (who had come into contact with the Tablighi Jamaat members tested positive for Covid-19).
“So far, 20 Tablighi and nine of their contacts have been tested positive in J&K,” the newspaper said.