Coronavirus outbreak | Tablighi Jamaat attendees: We pleaded with the Delhi government for help for 7 days

Updated: Apr 06, 2020, 07:08 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Pained about being dubbed the 'epicentre of COVID-19 spread in India' and widely demonised in society, Tablighi Jamaat attendees say they took every possible precaution

Tablighi Jamaat members from Ahmedabad being taken into quarantine. Pic/PTI
Tablighi Jamaat members from Ahmedabad being taken into quarantine. Pic/PTI

The Tablighi Jamaat has held the Delhi government responsible for the community transmission of COVID-19. The Jamaat's spokesperson Shahid Ali claimed that despite repeated requests, the Delhi government did not issue curfew passes to stranded attendees after the lockdown took effect on March 24.

The government initiated a police crackdown when they realised foreign nationals are among the stranded and could infect others, he further claimed.

Tablighi Jamaat's spokesperson, Shahid Ali, said that it is incorrect to brand the Tablighi Jamaat as the 'epicentre' of Coronavirus in India.

Tablighi Jamaat members from Ahmedabad being taken into quarantine
Tablighi Jamaat members from Ahmedabad being taken into quarantine

"This is the centre for Tablighi Jamaat which means a group of persons. And these people visit every corner of the world and after completing their terms of visiting the world, they have to report to the Markaz (centre). These people come from far places. And when the lockdown was announced on March 24, nearly 3,500 such people were stuck here at Nizamuddin," said Ali, who is also the counsel for Jamaat's absconding chief Mohammad Saad who is said to be in quarantine at an undisclosed location.

"Though a few managed to leave the Markaz, many remained stuck as their trains and flights were cancelled. We requested the Delhi government to give us curfew passes to help the stranded. We had vehicles and drivers. But it didn't," said Ali.

"We requested the government on March 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. Only when the administration realised that there are international travellers amid at the Markaz, did they wake up and police crackdown began," he added "Delhi government should have given us curfew passes, or quarantined us, or tested us for COVID-19. But nothing was done. The Delhi government is responsible for this. Neither the District Magistrate nor the Additional District Magistrate gave us the passes," Ali

He further accused the Delhi government of creating a scene after which the Markaz was dubbed as 'epicentre' of COVID-19. "The entire world knows that Coronavirus started to spread from China. We are being targeted by people with vested interests," he said.

'We tested negative'
The attendees of Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic religious gathering, told mid-day that they got to know about Coronavirus after returning to Mumbai.

"It was a religious gathering and I travelled from Hyderabad to reach Nizamuddin on March 14. There were nearly 650 people from Hyderabad and 2,000 devotees from Telangana. After staying for three days we returned to Hyderabad," said a 45-year-old man who operates a movers and packers business in Hyderabad.

"After returning to Hyderabad, I got myself tested for COVID-19 and the report was negative. But, on April 1, I received a call from local police who asked me to go into quarantine. I told him that I have been tested negative, yet the cops and municipal corporation officials have kept me in quarantine for 14 days," he added.

'Getting constant calls'
A New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) employee who hails from Goregaon and is settled in Delhi is being constantly contacted by authorities. "My job is to count trees in Delhi. And I was in Nizamuddin for that. I got a call from police, who are telling me to self-isolate," he said.

A 25-year-old Malad resident went to Odisha for work related to the Jamaat. On March 11, he reached Nizamuddin and returned to Mumbai on March 16. "I developed no symptoms of COVID-19. But on April 1, cops called me and forced me to stay in an isolation ward at a guest house in Malad East," the man said.

A Hyderabad resident, who has been quarantined, said, "It is really inhuman and incorrect to paint the Jamaat as the epicentre of COVID-19."

Over three dozen people who attended the Jamaat in Nizamuddin are being quarantined at guest houses at Aksa beach in Malad West. While three to seven attendees are being quarantined in a hotel in Kandivali West.

"We returned to Malwani on March 16 and developed no symptoms of Coronavirus. We received a call on April 1 and are being quarantined at Aksa beach," said a quarantined attendee.

A 50-year-old Lokhandwala resident too had gone to Nizamuddin in February to attend the Jamaat. "I stayed there for three days and returned to Mumbai. I developed no symptoms. I neither received a call from BMC nor from Mumbai police. But I have learnt that the cops in Delhi are getting dump data of people who visited Nizamuddin Markaz," said the man who is an online trader in Mumbai.

3,500
No. of people Jamaat claims were stranded after lockdown came into effect

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