Will identify, quarantine coronavirus positive Tabligh workers, says Centre as Nizamuddin event sparks fear

Sources say most foreigners came on tourist visas, violated the norms by attending the religious function

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 31

The central government said on Tuesday that it would identify, isolate and quarantine people who attended a religious congregation in the national capital that has sparked fears of an exponential rise in the country’s coronavirus cases.

The event in question, a “tabligh” held at Markaz Nizamuddin held between March and 15 has led to fears that of uncontrollable spread of the deadly coronavirus. 

In its official response, the Ministry of Home Affairs said, some 2,100 foreigners had visited India since January 1 for tabligh events.

The MHA said it had taken “swift action” to identify, isolate and quarantine Indian Tabligh Jamaat (TJ) workers in India in an attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. The MHA said instructions were also issued to chief secretaries and Director Generals of Police (DGsP) of all states as well as Commissioner of Police, Delhi. The advisories were also reiterated by the Director Intelligence Bureau (DIB) to all the State DGsP on March 28 and 29.

Meanwhile, TJ workers staying in the Markaz in Nizamuddin, Delhi, were also persuaded for medical screening by state authorities and police, MHA said. By March 29, nearly 162 TJ workers were medically screened and shifted to quarantine facilities. So far, over 1,500 TJ workers have been moved to Narela, Sultanpuri and Bakkarwala quarantine facilities and 303, who have been found having Covid-19 symptoms, were referred to different government hospitals in the national capital including LNJP, RGSS, GTB, DDU Hospitals and AllMS, Jhajjar.

Tabligh Jamaat workers, both foreigners as well Indians, participate in Tabligh activities (Chilla) across the country throughout the year. These events also see participation of foreign nationals, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan.

Foreigners coming to India for tabligh events first report to Tabligh Markaz at Banglewali Mosque at Hazrat Nizamuddin. From here, they are detailed for Tabligh activities (Chilla) to different parts of the country, the MHA said.

Chilla activities in all states are coordinated by district coordinators, who, in turn, in some States are supervised by state Amirs.

As of March 21, 2020, some 1,746 people were staying at the Nizamuddin Markaz--- 216 foreigners and 1,530 Indians---the MHA said. Additionally, about 824 foreigners had been, as on March 21, doing Chilla activities in various parts of the country. Also, a large number of Indian Tabligh Jamaat workers were also engaged in different parts of the country.

Details of these 824 foreigners had been shared on March 21 with various state police departments for identifying them, getting them medically screened and quarantining them. 

Since February 1, Bureau of Immigration has been sharing details of all international arrivals from affected countries based on “Self-Declaration Form” they filled on arrival with state authorities.

In addition, since March 6, Bureau of Immigration had also been sharing details of all the international arrivals (both Indians and foreigners) at all the international airports in the country to the concerned State, based on the permanent address mentioned in their passport, in case of Indians, and hotel address, in case of foreigners.

Blacklist

Meanwhile, sources in the MHA said earlier in the day that the central government would soon blacklist the 281 identified foreign nationals.

Officials said they had a list of 1,549  Indians from 19 states who had participated in the event as well.

 “We have prepared a state-wise list of these Indians, as maximum 501 came from Tamil Nadu, 216 from Assam, 156 from Uttar Pradesh, 109 from Maharashtra and 107 from Madhya Pradesh,” officials said.

The MHA officials said as many as 30 of these foreign nationals, who attended the Tabligh-e-Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz facility in March, had shown symptoms of COVID-19 and as per information available at least three had succumbed to the infection in the last few days.

A senior MHA official said, “Those foreign nationals, who came on tourist visas and ended up attending the religious event at Nizamuddin, have violated the visa conditions and thus the government has no option but to put them under the blacklist. Tourist visa holders can’t attend a religious function.” He said the blacklist norm is such that once a foreigner is put in it, he or she can’t travel to India in future.

Of the total 281 foreigners identified by the police at the Nizamuddin campus in the last two days, 19 are from Nepal, 20 from Malaysia, one from Afghanistan, 33 from Myanmar, one from Algeria, one from Djibouti, 28 from Kyrgystan, 72 from Indonesia, seven from Thailand, 34 from Sri Lanka, 19 from Bangladesh, three from England, one from Singapore, four from Fiji, one from France and one from Kuwait. Most of these foreigners came on a tourist visa, an official said.

 Here’s a break-up of those who attended the event

Indians:

State                            Figure

Andaman                    21

Assam                         216

Bihar                           86

Haryana                       22

Himachal                     15

Hyderabad                  55

Karnataka                    45

Kerala                          15

Maharashtra                109

Meghalaya                   5

Madhya Pradesh         107

Odisha                         15

Punjab                         9

Rajasthan                    19

Jharkhand                    46

Tamil Nadu                 501

Uttrakhand                  34

Uttar Pradesh              156

West Bengal                73

International                281

Total                            1,830

 

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