As the Tabligh-e-Jamaat’s Markaz in Nizamuddin West has emerged as a major COVID-19 hotspot with 128 linked positive cases across the country, the Centre has advised all states and union territories to “immediately trace, screen and quarantine” the estimated 2000 foreigners who attended the religious gathering last month.
The Home Ministry in a letter addressed to state chief secretaries and police chiefs also said that if any foreigner tests negative for the deadly Coronavirus, then he should be “immediately deported by the first available flight”.
“Till that time, such person must be confined and quarantined by his host organisation,” the government has said in its advisory.
The advisory further said that foreign teams of the Jamaat are on tour to the hinterland of India, and appear to be potential carriers of the coronavirus disease.
“TJ activists from India had reportedly attended a religious congregation (February 27 to March 1) in a mosque in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. Open domain reports indicated that several of those who attended the congregation had tested positive for Covid-19. Hence, thorough screenings of these who arrived from Malaysia is urgently needed,” it said.
“Presently, it is estimated that about 2000 foreigners, on tourist visa, from over 70 countries are spread all over the country for Tabligh work. Their period of stay in this country is upto six months. Tabligh headquarters at Nizamuddin (Delhi) is reportedly in the process of calling the foreign Tabligh teams from different states and sending them back to their respective countries,” it added.
Fifty have tested positive in Tamil Nadu, 24 in Delhi, 21 in Telangana, 21 in Andhra Pradesh, 10 in Andamans and one each in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir after attending the gathering.
824 foreigners had also travelled to different states and their details had been shared with the police chiefs, the Home Ministry said.
Defying lockdown orders and social distancing rules, the Markaz building, which is the international headquarters of ‘Tablighi Jamaat’ from around last 100 years, continued to house about 2,000 people from different parts of the country and world.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Home Ministry said it has found violation of visa rules by foreigners who attended the event. India is likely to blacklist about 300 foreigners who came from 16 countries, including Malaysia and Thailand, on tourist visas but attended the Islamic congregation at Nizamuddin.
As per policy guidelines of Indian Visa issued by by the Government of India, preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio-visual display/ pamphlets pertaining to religious ideologies is not allowed.
Therefore all foreigners who attended the event may be barred.
Following the event, several hundreds complained of COVID-19 like symptoms after which the Delhi Police sealed off the Nizamuddin area.
The Markaz Nizamuddin, meanwhile, has been cleared after the evacuation of 2,361 people in the past 36 hours, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Wednesday.
Tablighi Jamaat Markaz has been booked for violating the Epidemic Act provisions and also IPC Section 120B (criminal conspiracy). The Crime Branch will also question the Markaz chief as well as Saad Kandhalvi, who organized such a large gathering of the sect’s followers in a situation where coronavirus infection spreads quickly.
The FIR in the case names Saad, Dr Zeeshan, Mufti Shehzad, Mursalin Saifi, Yonus and Mohd Salman. Saad has two houses in Delhi – one in Zakir Nagar and another in Nizamuddin.
Meanwhile, seven people who attended the event have died of Coronavirus infection – six from Telangana and one from Andaman and Nicobar Islands.