The government in the Parliament on Monday said that a huge gathering of Tablighi Jamaat in March in Delhi, despite orders issued by various authorities after the outbreak of coronavirus, “also” led to the spread of the virus among “many persons”.

“As reported by Delhi Police, despite guidelines/orders issued by various authorities in pursuance of the outbreak of COVID-19 a huge gathering assembled inside a closed premise; over a protracted period of time, without any semblance of social distancing or provision of masks and sanitizers. This also caused spread of Corona Virus infection amongst many persons,” Minister of State (Home Affairs) G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha.

He further informed that as many 2,361 persons of Tablighi Jamaat were evacuated by Delhi Police on March 29.

“233 persons of Jamaat have been arrested by Delhi Police. However, regarding Jamaat chief Maulana Mohd Saad, investigation is underway,” Reddy said.

Delhi Police has so far filed 59 chargesheets against 956 foreign nationals from 36 countries. The centre has cancelled their visas and has blacklisted them.

The response came to a question from Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai who asked the ministry to specify whether the spread of coronavirus in Delhi and other states was due to the assembly of people for the gathering.

The Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in March in Delhi’s Nizamuddin has reportedly contributed to 30 per cent of the total Coronavirus cases in the country at that time. India witnessed a surge in the number of cases after more than 1,000 people linked to the controversial Delhi mosque event tested positive. At least 17 states have reported COVID-19 cases linked to the gathering.

Right after the incident came in light, many attacks were launched on different media platforms criticising the gathering and accusing it to be behind the rapid spread of the virus.

Following their evacuation from Markaz facility in Nizamuddin, several Tablighi Jamaat members have been arrested in police raids. A string of First Information Reports (FIR) have been filed against them across the country ranging from violating quarantine orders to indecent behaviour in hospitals.

According to the chargesheets filed in the case, the foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visas and had participated in religious gatherings.