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Coronavirus in India: Tablighi Jamaat preacher, others booked for violating govt guidelines on religious gatherings

India Today logo India Today 31-03-2020 India Today Web Desk

A case has been registered against the preacher who led the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi and others for violating government orders and exposing many to the threat of coronavirus.

Maulana Saad and others members of the Tablighi Jamaat have been booked under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for violation of government directions given to the management of Markaz (centre) in Basti Nizamuddin regarding restrictions on social, political and religious gathering and for taking safety measures, including social distancing for prevention and treatment of Covid-19 infection.

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The Delhi Police Commissioner said that the FIR was filed by Delhi Police Crime Branch under Section 3 (penalty for offence) of the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 and Sections 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease), 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) and 120b (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

The markaz (centre) in the south Delhi neighbourhood organised a Tabligh-e-Jamaat from March 1-15 and at least 2,000 people, including foreigners and Indians from across the country, attended the gathering.

On Sunday night, many residents of the centre started showing symptoms of Covid-19 and police and paramilitary officials locked down the area but authorities fear a possible spread of the virus.

Also watch: How Tablighi Jamaat may end up becoming India’s COVID-19 hotspot (Video by The Times of India)

In Delhi, at least 24 people who participated in the event have tested positive for Covid-19.

On Monday night, the Telangana government confirmed that six people who had attended the congregation in Delhi died of coronavirus in the state.

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States across the country are now a hunt to trace all members of the Jamaat as well as those they came in contact with.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that 1,107 people, who attended the religious congregation in Nizamuddin West, have been quarantined.

Arvind Kejriwal slammed the organisers of the religious gathering saying it was "highly irresponsible" on their part to hold such an event at a time when thousands have died in other countries due to the pandemic.

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He said that his government has already written to Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal recommending the registration of an FIR against the organisers.

Nationals from the UK and France are among 281 foreigners out of 1,830 people who were found by the police in the last two days at the Markaz that became a key source of coronavirus spread in the country, officials said.

In last one month, at least 8,000 people, including foreigners visited the premises of the Markaz, and most of them either returned to their respective places or were in other Markaz facilities across the country, thereby having a link to some positive cases in those states, they said.

India is also likely to blacklist 300 foreign nationals who attended the event for violating visa norms, the officials said.

Markaz Nizamuddin, the international headquarters of the Jamaat for nearly 100 years, has said when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the "Janta Curfew" on March 22, they discontinued ongoing programmes but a large number of people were stuck there because of the closure of transport services.

Follow the government's latest guidance on safeguarding yourself during the coronavirus pandemic, including travel advice within and outside the country. The World Health Organization has also busted some myths surrounding coronavirus. The Ministry of Health's special helpline is available at +91-11-23978046, ncov2019@gmail.com and ncov2019@gov.in.

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