In a major development on Tuesday, the Delhi Police Crime Branch is all set to file up to 20 charge sheets against Tablighi Jamaat members in the capital’s Saket court. As per sources, the 20 charge sheets will be filed in batches with the first lot to be filed on Tuesday naming over 83 foreign nationals who attended the Markaz event. Sources added that as many as 2000 members will be accused in the 20 charge sheets.
The Tablighi Jamaat event held at the Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi earlier in March led to an over 30% rise in the total COVID-19 cases in the country, with attendees, many of whom had come from foreign countries dispersing afterward thereby increasing the geographical spread of the outbreak.
Earlier on May 6, in a major relief to all Markaz attendees who were quarantined for over 35 days, the Delhi government ordered the release of 4000 Tablighi Jamaat members who have completed quarantine. Moreover, it ordered sending all those members who have been named in the Delhi police investigation to police custody. Remaining members were ordered to be sent back to their home states.
Markaz attendees in quarantine
Since the discovery of the Markaz cluster, all the attendees still at the venue were evacuated and sent to institutional quarantine centers in Delhi. After being tracked down, several attendees who had returned to their home states were released from their respective quarantine centers after testing negative twice consecutively. However, those who were lodged in Delhi’s quarantine centers were not released, as per reports.
Tablighi Jamaat’s Covid-19 spread
On March 30, it was reported that a religious program was organized at Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters Markaz Nizamuddin mosque between 13-15 March which had over 3400 attendees from Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Kyrgyzstan and from several states in India. After attending the meeting, prior to the nationwide lockdown but after the state’s own order against such gatherings, 1500 of these attendees returned to several parts of the country leading to the spread of the Coronavirus. The Delhi Crime Branch then booked the Markaz chief Maulana Saad for violating lockdown restrictions and allegedly provoking others to do so. In audiotapes accessed from the event, unscientific and anti-religion claims were made about the Coronavirus, and a faith-based bravado was propagated.
Health Minister laments Markaz event
Just days earlier, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had lamented the event, while expressing that he no longer wished to discuss it.
“Enough has been discussed and debated about it. I feel bad to raise this issue every now and then. However, around the second week of March, when the virus was spreading very fast in the world and one and a half months had passed after the country reported the first case, even till then the number of cases in the country was very less,” he said.
“At that time, this unfortunate and sad incident took place. When it took place, there was no social distancing followed there. In Delhi, at that time, there was this situation where 10-15 people could not stand together. At that time, people from over 12 countries came there,” the Health Minister added.
Harsh Vardhan revealed that by the time the information was received a lot of people were removed but a lot had already moved before, following which there was a surge in the number of cases across the country. He added that different state governments and Home Ministry officials had helped a lot.