177 people, including 108 foreigners, from the Nizamuddin gathering in quarantine in Bengal: Mamata

Published : April 08, 2020 20:26 IST

Preparing a quarantine facility amid concerns of COVID-19 spread, in Howrah district, a March 19 picture. Photo: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI

In the face of mounting criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for her alleged reticence over the steps taken to isolate those who had gone from West Bengal to participate in the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that a total of 177 people—including 108 foreigners—who had taken part in the Jamaat, had already been put in quarantine.

“Within just six hours of receiving the information, we quietly began to work. Around 10-12 days ago, we put 108 foreigners who had participated in the programme in a quarantine centre. They are monitored by the State administration and the State Health Department,” said Mamata at a press conference on April 8. The foreigners are from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Along with the foreigners in quarantine are 69 people from the State who had gone for the Tablighi Jamaat. “More than 200 people have been put in quarantine here in connection with the Nizamuddin gathering,” said Mamata.

Taking a swipe at the Centre, she said: “A lot of people had gathered at Nizamuddin because they were allowed to gather there…. I do not want to get into a political argument over this issue. But what I want to say is that when we got the information that many people from Bengal had also gone there, our administration quietly took the necessary steps. Those who are making allegations—the same people who were responsible for creating the situation in the first place—should refrain from making statements without knowing the facts.”

Mamata pointed out that a little secrecy was sometimes needed for a government to function. “If I see some news is liable to cause panic in a particular community, why will I spread that?” she said.

The fresh war of words between the West Bengal Chief Minister and the BJP was sparked off when, on April 7, Mamata refused to answer a question from the media regarding the Tablighi cases, prompting the BJP to immediately accuse her of indulging in vote bank politics. Amit Malviya, who is in charge of the BJP’s national IT (Information and Technology) cell, posted on social media:

“Mamata Banerjee when asked for an update on Tablighi cases said, ‘Don’t ask communal questions.’

Jamaat cases have exploded across, but no clarity on the latest numbers in Bengal. How many of them traced and tested. Results? No update at all!

Has she made this about vote bank?”

Earlier Malviya had attacked Mamata for concealing data on the spread of COVID-19 in the State.

As of the afternoon of April 8, the number of “active” COVID-19 cases in the State stood at 71, of which, Mamata claimed, 61 cases were from 11 families. The official figure of the number of people who had died of coronavirus stood at five (as of April 8).

Regarding the possibility of the lockdown period being extended, she said: “The lockdown is causing a lot of problems for the common people, but corona is a very big problem. However, the plight of the people should also be kept in consideration. So, if the lockdown is extended, it should be done in a humane manner.”

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