Facing coronavirus heat, Tablighi Jamath says lockdown hit evacuation efforts

Nearly 40 people from the Jamath facility were taken to isolation centres

nizamuddin people pti People being taken away from the Jamath premises at Nizamuddin | PTI

The Markaz Tablighi Jamath at Hazrat Nizamuddin in the national capital is at the centre of a controversy over hosting a religious congregation earlier this month, which, it is feared, may trigger a rapid spread of the coronavirus.

The Tablighi Jamath wrote to the Delhi Police on March 29, claiming that its efforts to decongest the premises had to be stopped midway due to the announcement of the nationwide lockdown.

The letter was written to Atul Kumar, assistant commissioner of police, Lajpat Nagar, in response a notice sent to the Jamath on March 28 with regard to the crowding there. The letter said that being an international centre of Tablighi Jamath, it is always and at all times occupied and crowded by people from both within and outside the country, and the same was the position at the time of the issuance of various prohibitory and lockdown orders of the Central and the state governments.

The Jamath stressed that the question of holding a gathering of many persons despite the prohibitory and lockdown orders “does not arise at all as these persons were already there inside the Markaz before and at the time of the promulgation of the prohibitory-lockdown orders”.

The Jamath said that no new person was allowed to enter and gather at the Markaz and its gates and its doors were closed immediately after the declaration of the lockdown.

It claimed that following the declaration of lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 22, the Markaz was “mostly vacated” the following day, but further efforts to decongest and vacate the premises had to be stopped midway due to the lockdown announced for 21 days.

Referring to Modi's call to the people to 'stay wherever they are', the Jamath said several people, including Tablighi volunteers from various states and also different countries, remained confined and isolated inside the Markaz. The place houses residents and family of the maulana of the Jamath.

The letter, signed by Maulana Yousuf of the Jamath, stated that it had complied with the notice sent by the Delhi Police on March 24. It said that on March 25, a tehsildar, along with a medical team, had visited the Markaz and examined the confined persons.

The Jamath mentioned its application filed in the SDM's office on March 25 for permission to vacate the premises, and a list of vehicles was provided. It said that the SDM visited the Markaz on March 26 and called the Jamath authorities for a meeting with the district magistrate. The meeting with the DM took place, in which the permission to vacate the Markaz was sought. As per the letter, the Jamath was still waiting for the permission.

On March 27, six persons were taken for a medical check-up and they were isolated at a facility in Jhajjar, Haryana. On March 28, the SDM and a WHO team visited the Markaz, after which 33 persons were taken for a medical check-up. They were then shifted to an isolation ward at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital, Delhi.

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