On the clarification of Markaz Nizamuddin that they were forced to accommodate visitors due to lockdown, the Delhi government hit back saying that there could be no defence for hosting such a large gathering as a ban was already in place since March 13.
On the March 16, the government further reduced gatherings from 200 to 50 under the ban. Therefore, the Delhi government said, the clarification that has been issued wherein they say Makarz had intimated the SHO on March 24 is not enough.
The Delhi government has described the congregation at the Markaz Tablighi Jamath at Hazrat Nizamuddin as a criminal act that was carried out in violation of prohibitory orders that were already in place in the national capital banning large gatherings in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
“The lockdown was imposed on March 24 and it was the duty of every owner and administrator of every hotel, guesthouse, hostel and similar establishment to maintain social distancing. It looks like social distancing and quarantine protocols were not practised here,” a statement by the Delhi government said.
“Now, it has come to our knowledge that the administrators violated these conditions and several cases of Corona-positive patients have been found here,” it added.
The government further stated that strict action would be taken against the organisers of the event.
“By this gross act of negligence, many lives have been endangered. It was the responsibility of every citizen to proactively avoid such a gathering of people during the lockdown and this is nothing but a criminal act,” read the statement.
The Delhi government on Monday directed the police to register an FIR against Maulana Saad Kandalwi of Nizamuddin Markaz after several cases of suspected coronavirus were found in the Nizamuddin area.
Meanwhile, AAP MLA Atishi Marlena has urged for ‘strong action’ against the Nizamuddin event organisers.
“Strong action should be taken against the administrators of the Nizamuddin Markaz who organised a 3-day religious gathering, with 1000s of people from 13th-15th March, when Delhi Govt orders had expressely forbidden gatherings or more than 200 persons on 13th March itself,” she said in a tweet.
Moreover, notification by Delhi Govt on 12th March stated that anyone with a travel history from COVID-19 affected countries have to self-isolate, then why did the administrators of the Markaz not ensure isolation of residents coming from those countries? pic.twitter.com/zqd8lzAPOC
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) March 31, 2020
Atishi further questioned why the Delhi Police did not take any action against such large gathering when it was already banned by the government.
What action did @DelhiPolice take against the large religious gathering at the Nizamuddin Markaz from 13-15th March, when there were orders from Delhi Govt prohibiting gatherings of more than 200 people?
Strong action needs to be taken by MHA against concerned police officers
— Atishi (@AtishiAAP) March 31, 2020
Over 2,000 delegates, including from Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan attended the Tabligh-e-Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin West from March 13-15
So far, seven people, who attended the religious congregation have died, while 24 have tested positive for the virus.
Around 1,034 people have now been shifted from the Markaz building till now — 334 to hospitals and 700 to quarantine centers — in at least 34 trips made by Delhi government buses.
The Delhi Police on Monday night cordoned off the area as several people showed symptoms of being infected with the virus.
In its clarification, the Markaz Nizamuddin stated that they did not violate the lockdown announced by the government.
It said that with a hastily carried out lockdown, the visitors were stranded and forced to seek accommodation at the premises, in accordance with the orders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for people to stay put at wherever they were.
On March 24, it said, a notice was issued by Hazrat Nizamuddin Police Station In-charge seeking closure of Markaz premises. It said that the request of the Station Head Officer (SHO) was responded the same day. It stated that the compliance of the directions regarding closure of the Markaz was already underway as the arrangements for around 1,000 visitors belonging to different states and nationalities were being provisioned wherein the concerned SDM had been requested to issue vehicle passes.
The religious group’s international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, is situated in the middle of Nizamuddin colony in southwest Delhi, from where it originally started. It has centres in over 200 countries.