New Delhi, Mar 31, 2020: Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Tuesday (March 31) lodged an FIR against Maulana Saad and others of Tablighi Jamaat for violation of government order issued in the wake of coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. The case was filed under three sections of Epidemic Disease Act 1897- Section 269, 270, 271, and 120-B of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for violation of directions given to the management of Markaz of Basti Nizamuddin.
The order was issued for restriction of social/political/religious gathering and for taking safety measures, including social distancing for prevention and treatment of coronavirus COVID-19 infection, Zee reported.
According to Home Ministry’s statement, there were as many as 261 foreign nationals among 1,746 people lodged at the Tablighi Jamaat`s Nizamuddin Markaz facility as on March 21, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced `Janata curfew` across India to contain COVID-19 spread.
The Ministry further said that about 824 foreigners had been, as on March 21, doing Tabligh activities in various parts of the country. The statement was issued after the headquarters of a religious sect in the Nizamuddin area emerged as one of the biggest coronavirus hotspots in India with 24 people testing positive and nearly 200 others showing symptoms.
The authorities have begun evacuating the six-storey building of some over 1,000 others believed to have been exposed to the virus. The building belongs to the Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim sect that hosted this month its annual congregession with attendees coming in from several nations, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan.
The attendees reportedly spread out to other parts of the country such as Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh creating a web of close contacts that now threatens to create an explosion of cases in the country.
The Ministry said, "As on March 21, there were about 1,746 persons staying in Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz. Of these, 216 were foreigners and 1,530 were Indians."
Earlier in a press conference, Health Ministry today said that it was not the time to find faults but to take action. "With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand and appreciate that this is not the time to do fault finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, said.
The Delhi Police has cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin West where many people showed symptoms of coronavirus after taking part in the Tabligh-e-Jamaat.
Addressing a digital press conference, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that local transmission is under control and community transmission has not started yet, adding that so far 97 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in Delhi.
"One person has moved to Singapore, two have died while five persons have been cured so far. A total of 89 people are in the hospitals and of these one person has been put on ventilator support while and two have been put on oxygen. The conditions of the rest are stated to be stable. I pray for the recovery of all the patients," Kejriwal said.
He said, "We analysed these cases and found that 24 are from Nizamuddin Markaz, 41 cases are those who came from abroad, 22 cases are family members of these 41 foreign returnees while 10 other cases are being analysed. We are not in the stage of community transmission."
Kejriwal said the people are being tested for the virus, adding "Over 1,548 people have been rescued from the building and more than 441 have been tested for the virus as they showed symptoms and are in the hospital now. 1,107 people had no symptoms but have been to be on quarantine."
"It is scary to even imagine what harm this can do. I urge all the religious leaders and people to not organise any gathering and cooperate with the government," Kejirwal said, adding that he has written to Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, asking him to take strict action in this regard.
Notably, India is under a nationwide lockdown till April 14 due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the country.