Tablighi Jamaat denies wrongdoing

Published : March 31, 2020 16:29 IST

People who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin West before boarding a bus to a hospital for screening, on March 31. Photo: KAMAL NARANG

Even as reports come in of the death of six persons in Telangana and one in Jammu and Kashmir among those who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi in mid March, Jamaat officials have denied any wrong doing.

In Delhi, 24 men have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus so far. The figure may go up as many of the domestic participants have returned to their home towns and efforts are on to trace them.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked for a first information report to be filed against the organisers. Health Minister Satyendra Jain told mediapersons: “The organisers committed a grave crime. We have asked the Lieutenant Governor for toughest action.”

The Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid premises were sealed on March 31 morning and some 700 men from the Markaz were transported by bus to different quarantine locations in Delhi.

The Tablighi Jamaat officials insisted that they were following all the rules after the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They also said that the congregation had been planned a year in advance and that all the foreign participants had come with valid visas.

In a release, the Jamaat, which hosts worshippers round the year, said: “When the Prime Minister announced the Janata curfew for March 22, the ongoing programme in the Markaz was discontinued immediately. However, due to the sudden cancellation of rail services across the country on March 21, a large group of visitors got stuck in the Markaz premises. Before the Janata curfew could be lifted, the Chief Minister of Delhi announced a lockdown of Delhi, beginning at 6 a.m. on March 23. 

“On the evening of March 23, a further nationwide lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister with a clear message for people to stay put wherever they were. Under such compelling circumstances there was no option for the Markaz but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions until the situation became conducive for their movement or arrangements were made by the authorities.”

The Islamic body also said that on March 24, a notice was sent by the local police station to close the premises and that it was complying with orders. Around 1,500 people had departed the previous day, it added.

The body said it had also requested the sub-divisional magistrate to issue vehicle passes so that the remaining people could be sent back to their native places outside Delhi. It submitted a list of 17 vehicles with registration numbers and the names of the drivers along with their licence details. The requisite permission is still awaited, it said.

On March 30, a news agency said that the Delhi Chief Minister had directed the authorities to take legal action against the Markaz administration. “The Markaz never violated any provision of law,” the body said.

Meanwhile, more than 300 participants have been moved to various hospitals in Delhi with symptoms of the virus.

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