Four aides of Deobandi preacher test positive

Being compared with ‘Patient 31’ who infected thousands

Four aides of Deobandi preacher test positive

Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, March 25

Four persons tested positive for Covid in Kashmir on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir UT to 11.

All four fresh cases had close contact with the 65-year-old Deobandi preacher of Hyderpora locality of Srinagar, who tested positive on Tuesday.

“Four more persons, all from Bandipora, tested positive today. Preliminary findings suggest they were close contacts of Srinagar patient who tested positive yesterday,” government spokesperson Rohit Kansal said.

They are all residents of Hajin town in Bandipora district and are aged between 30 to 40 years. Officials said they were found together at a mosque in Samba district, where hundreds of followers of seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh had assembled between March 12 to 16 for a religious congregation.

The Deoband leadership has come under sharp criticism from the locals for not avoiding religious gathering.

Many people are likening the preacher with South Korea’s ‘Patient 31’, who is a member of a fringe church called Shincheonji, and was called “super spreader” for infecting several thousands of people.

Soon after the preacher was declared positive for Covid, hundreds of followers of Deobandi thought lined up outside hospitals in Kashmir for screening.

Also, two doctors, who treated him at the Sopore sub-district hospital on March 16, were admitted to Government Medical College, Baramulla, for Covid testing today.

The long travel history of the Deobandi preacher in India has perplexed the doctors.

He travelled half of India, from Andaman and Nicobar to New Delhi to Uttar Pradesh before returning back to Kashmir on March 16. He met thousands of people, including foreign nationals, at various religious congregations in India during his over three-month long travel.

Cases in UT shoot up to 11

  • Four residents of Hajin town in Bandipora district tested positive on Wednesday; all of them are aged between 30 years and 40 years
  • They were found together at a mosque in Samba district, where hundreds of followers of seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh had assembled between March 12 to 16 for a religious congregation
  • Doctors, who treated the Deobandi preacher at the Sopore sub-district hospital on March 16, were also admitted to the Government Medical College in Baramulla for the Covid test

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