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New Delhi, March 31, 2020
With 24 people who attended a religious congregation in south Delhi testing positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, the government said the authorities have evacuated over 1,000 people from the area and that more evacuations are underway.
"Twenty-four people have tested positive," Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told media persons.
The people were part of the Tabligh-e-Jamaat religious outfit. On Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered an FIR against a "maulana" who led the congregation at the "markaj" (centre) in West Nizamuddin in south Delhi.
Delhi Police has cordoned off a large area at Nizamuddin West where several people showed symptoms of coronavirus after taking part in the religious gathering.
Jain said 1,033 people have been shifted to various places. "Seven hundred people who attended this congregation have been quarantined while around 335 people have been admitted to hospitals," Jain said, adding that screening of all those who participated in the event is being conducted by the government.
The Tabligh-e-Jamaat in a statement on Tuesday said that it had informed the officials and sought permission to evacuate the people, but was denied permission.
The Tabligh-e-Jamaat also shared the proof of the communication between police and the authorities concerned and slammed the media for misreporting.
"When the Prime Minister announced 'Janata curfew' to be observed on March 22, the ongoing programme in the centre was discontinued immediately," the statement by Tabligh-e-Jamaat Markaz said.
On March 24, it said, a notice was issued by Hazrat Nizamuddin Police Station In-charge seeking closure of Markaz premises. It said that the request of the Station Head Officer (SHO) was responded the same day. It stated that the compliance of the directions regarding closure of the Markaz was already underway as the arrangements for around 1,000 visitors belonging to different states and nationalities were being provisioned wherein the concerned SDM had been requested to issue vehicle passes.
"It is relevant to indicate here that lists of 17 vehicles with registration numbers along with the names of the drivers plus their licence details were submitted to the concerned SDM so that the stranded visitors or guests could be ferried towards their respective destinations," it said.
The Markaz said that the requisite permission was still awaited. "On March 25, when the Tehsildaar along with medical team visited the Markaz, full cooperation was provided for their inspection as well as preparation of list of visitors," it said.
It said that on March 26, the SDM visited the Markaz and later a meeting was organised with DM. "Permission was sought for the vehicles arranged by us and on March 27, six persons were taken for medical check-up," it said, adding that on March 28 the SDM and WHO team visited the Markaz and 33 persons were taken for medical check-up to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital.
"Surprisingly, the same day another notice was issued, this time by the Office of ACP, Lajpat Nagar, reiterating the prohibitory orders and warning of legal action, being totally oblivious of the above steps that were already taken by the Markaz administration in consultation with the authorities. However, the same was replied in detail vide letter dated March 29," it said.
On Monday night, around 100 suspected coronavirus cases were evacuated from the religious complex in buses. They have been kept in isolation in Narela area of Delhi. Those who were ill were admitted to various hospitals.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said it is estimated that 1,500-1,700 people had came from different parts of the world to attend the religious gathering at Nizamuddin.
As of Monday night, the total tally of positive coronavirus cases in Delhi was 97, including 20 from Nizamuddin.
The Health Minister said the government is screening all those who participated in the event.
While the police has cordoned off a major section of Nizamuddin West, intense sanitization is underway in the locality as well.
"We are testing people. Many of them have been tested and the reports are awaited. Although it is too early to say, we are preparing ourselves for a bigger number," the Health official said.
Meanwhile, six of the persons who returned to Telangana from the Tabligh-e-Jammat headquarters have since died from the coronavirus infection. Positive cases were reported from Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The family of a person who died on Monday after attending the religious congregation has been kept in isolation even as those who returned to their homes in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana were being tracked. At least 18 persons related to the deceased have been quarantined in Hyderabad.
A total of 194 people remain quarantined in Telengana while 981 persons in Tamil Nadu have been identified for screening.
As per information available with IANS, there were around 250 foreign nationals stuck at the Tabligh-e-Jammat HQ, including around 200 from Indonesia, 30 from Thailand, 10-15 from Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia.
The religious group's international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, is situated in the middle of Nizamuddin colony in southwest Delhi, from where it originally started. It has centres in over 200 countries.
On Saturday and Sunday, around 200 persons from the complex were admitted in various hospitals in Delhi as a precautionary measure.
Out of these 200, six of those admitted in Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in Delhi had returned, confirming later to be coronavirus positive.
Asked about the coronavirus positive cases, group spokesperson Mohammed Shoib Ali had then claimed that the hospital concerned had not given them any such report.
On Tuesday, India saw the maximum spike in the number of Covid-19 patients as the number of patients rose to 1,251 with 32 deaths across the country.