SRINAGAR: With a number of Covid-19 positive cases being reported from the gathering in Nizamuddin (Delhi), there is a surge in accusations blaming the organisers for the event. Kashmir’s first casualty to the virus was also part of the same gathering in Delhi and is being termed to be the ‘super spreader’.
Apart from a couple of cases in which the individuals who returned from Umrah were tested positive, most of the other cases are linked to the Delhi gathering. This, however, has led to reportage as if the Tablighi Jamaat knew of the infection and deliberately did it.
Of around 2500 people who participated in the gathering, so far 24 have tested positive for the serious viral infection. In Telangana, six of the positive cases have already died excluding the Srinagar businessman. A highly mobile person, the Srinagar preacher had visited various gathering on his return from Delhi. Some of his contacts have already tested positive including a Jammu microbiologist, a resident of Rajouri.
After shifting 700 people – who attended the congregation, to quarantine and 335 to hospitals, people have been admitted to hospitals, the Delhi government has registered a formal police case against the organisers. An IANS report said of the people who were evacuated from the 6-level headquarters of the religious organisation, at least 11 have tested positive as the results are awaited in 34 other samples. Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, positive cases were reported from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands also.
A number of people who have had contacts with positive cases have been quarantined. These include 18 persons in Hyderabad, 194 in Telangana, 981 persons in Tamil Nadu besides a few hundred in Kashmir and Jammu. The event was attended by a number of foreigners from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan and some of them are still in the Markaz.
All the states are attempting to trace their subjects who attended the conference. In UP authorities are busy in tracing 156 persons in 19 districts. Jammu and Kashmir has almost traced the first and second line of contacts but is facing problems in north Kashmir. “It was on day 1 that we traced the person who had contact with him,” Showkat Aijaz, the Deputy Commissioner, Kulgam said. “The person from Frisal tested negative. He is still in quarantine along with his contacts and their families; we cannot take it easy.”
The Other Side
On the flip side, however, a discourse is being built as if the virus belonged to the Tablighi Jamat. It is happening on a pattern that looks like US President Donald Trump dubbing the Coronavirus to be a “Chinese” virus. This is irking a lot of people. The people who are projecting the Delhi religious meeting as the sole Corona sources are conveniently forgetting that the virus had appeared earlier in Kerela and there were lot of meetings within and outside the parliament at a time when the Tablighi people were meeting in Delhi.
Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister, feels that Tablighi Jamat will become a convenient excuse for some to vilify Muslims everywhere. This has the potential of Islamophobia getting to the next level.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) March 31, 2020
This has led the organisers to issue a detailed statement indicating that they had kept the Delhi government in the loop throughout. This is the statement:
“Markaz Nizamuddin is the international headquarters of Tabilghi Jamaat for close to 100 years. Visitors/guests/devotees/worshippers from across the globe throng the place for pre-scheduled programs lasting for no more than 3-5 days. All the programs are decided a year in advance in order to facilitate visitors from far-off places to plan their participation.
When Hon’ble Prime Minister announced the “Janta Curfew”, for 22nd March 2020, the ongoing program in Markaz Nizamuddin was discontinued immediately, however, due to sudden cancellation of rail services across the country on 21 March 2020, a large group of visitors who had to depart by way of railways got stuck in the Markaz premises.
On 22nd March 2020, “Janta Curfew” was observed and accordingly, visitors were advised not to venture out until 9 PM as desired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, therefore the plans to move back to their native places by way of means other than railways also did not materialize. Before the Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9 PM, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi announced lockdown of Delhi beginning at 6 AM on 23 March 2020 till 31 March 2020, thereby further diminishing any chances of these visitors availing road transport for their journey back home. Despite this challenging situation, with the help of Markaz administration, around fifteen hundred visitors left Markaz Nizamuddin by availing whatever meagre transport was available.
Suddenly on the evening of 23rd March, a further nationwide lockdown was announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister with a clear message for people to stay-put wherever they are. Under such compelling circumstances there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions till such time that situation becomes conducive for their movement or arrangements are made by the authorities.
On 24’h March 2020, suddenly a notice was issued by SHO, P.S. Hazrat Nizamuddin, seeking closure of Markaz premises. The same was responded on 24th March 2020, stating that the compliance of the directions regarding the closure of Markaz is already underway and around 1500 people had departed the previous day, thus leaving around 1000 visitors belonging to different states and nationalities in Markaz. It was also informed that the Ld. SDM concerned had been requested to issue vehicle passes so that the remaining people could be sent back to their native places outside of Delhi. It is relevant to indicate here that lists of 17 vehicles with registration numbers along with the names of the drivers plus their license details were submitted to the Ld. SDM so that the stranded visitors/guests could be ferried towards their destination. The requisite permission is still awaited.
On 25th March 2020, the Tehsildar along with medical team visited the Markaz, full cooperation was provided for their inspection as well as in the preparation of the list of visitors, many of whom were examined by them.
On 26th March 2020, the Ld. SDM visited Markaz Nizamuddin and called us for a further meeting with the Ld. DM. We met the Ld. DM, apprised him of the stranded visitors and once again sought permission for the vehicles arranged by us.
The next day, i.e. 27th March 2020, six persons were taken for a medical check-up.
On 28th March 2020, the Ld. SDM and WHO team visited the Markaz and 33 persons were taken for medical checkup to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital. Surprisingly on the same day, another notice was issued, this time by the Office of ACP, Lajpat Nagar, reiterating the prohibitory orders and warning of legal action, this being totally oblivious of the above deliberations and steps that had already been taken by Markaz Nizamuddin in consultation with the authorities. However, the same was replied in detail vide letter dated 291h March 2020.
Yesterday, 30th March 2020, a rumour started gaining ground across social media that allegedly people affected with COVID-19 are present in Markaz. It is also being circulated that certain deaths have occurred due to the same. Unexpectedly, as reported by ANI, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi went on to say that he has directed authorities to take legal action against the administration of Markaz. It is humbly stated that if the above fact-check could have been done by the Office of Hon’ble Chief Minister, the authorities would have apprised him about their visits, deliberations and cooperation extended by the Markaz in order to disperse the remaining visitors.
During this entire episode, Markaz Nizamuddin never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi from different states. It did not let them violate the medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs or roaming on the streets.
Markaz Nizamuddin would like to humbly offer the entire premises as a quarantine facility to help the authorities tide-over the challenge of current pandemic. Throughout its 100-year existence, Markaz Nizamuddin has an unblemished history of cooperating with administration/ authorities and always upholding the rule of law in letter and spirit. In the present challenge of COVID-19, Markaz stands with the law enforcement authorities and shall remain forthcoming in complying with all the guidelines issued by them.”