Religious event turns Delhi’s Nizamuddin a Covid-19 hotspot


The congregation, part of a 20th Century Islamic movement called Tablighi Jamaat - was held in March and the paticipants remained stranded in the country following country-wide lockdown. 

Officials in more than half a dozen states have launched a hunt for hundreds of people who had attended a religious event in Delhi in the middle of March after nine Indian and one foreign participant died of the disease and many tested positive.

The deceased were among over 1000 persons who participated in the religious gathering held at Markaz Nizamuddin, the Delhi headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat group in Nizamuddin West. The infection came to light on Tuesday after Telangana reported deaths of six people who attended the event.

The religious congregation was attended by followers from various parts of the country and foreign countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Saudi Arabia. 300 foreigners who were on tourist visa and so, had also attended the event illegally.

According to media reports, 300 participants who showed symptoms have been moved to various hospital to be tested. Another 700 have been shifted into quarantine centres. The Delhi government has sealed and sanitized the area. A police case has been filed against the mosque administration.

Reports said around 2,000 people had been staying at Markaz Nizamuddin for weeks. After the event many of them had visited various states, which are now trying to track down not only the members who attended the meet but also the locals who have come in contact with those with symptoms.

A BBC report said that the infections were believed to have been caused by preachers who attended the event from Indonesia. The report said that more than 40 of Telangana's 71 cases were either directly or indirectly linked to the event.

Several such clusters have appeared in J & K, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. These states have asked people who attended the event to come forward for testing.

Markaz Nizamuddin defended itself saying the event was cancelled when PM Modi announced the "Janata Curfew" for March 22. A statement issued by the body said that members could not leave because trains were suddenly stopped. After that, it said, lockdowns ordered first by the Delhi government and then by the PM left the visitors stranded in the Markaz.

However, officials point out that long before the lockdowns, the Delhi government had called for suspending all gatherings, religious, cultural or social. Similar Tablighi Jamaat gatherings held in February-March have been linked to virus cases in countries like Malaysia and Pakistan (with inputs from Times of India, Hindustan Times and BBC)

Image Credit: BBC



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