Under scanner, Tablighi Jamaat says its members were stuck due to lockdown over coronavirus pandemic

The group claimed that it had merely followed government's instructions to people to stay put wherever they were.

Under scanner, Tablighi Jamaat says its members were stuck due to lockdown over coronavirus pandemic

New Delhi: Religious Islamic organisation Tablighi Jamaat, which is under scanner for organising a three-day congregation in Delhi, has issued a statement saying that its members were stuck at its Nizamuddin headquarters since they could not go to their destinations due the country-wide lockdown announced by the Prime Minister to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In its press release, the outfit said that it had duly informed the government and concerned authorities about the situation at its Nizamuddin headoffice after the lockdown came into force and asked for assistance in evacuating its members. However, no action was taken by the authorities.  

Group’s spokesperson Dr Mohammed Shoib Ali had maintained that the congregation of so many persons in the complex was reported before the nationwide lockdown on March 24 midnight. 

They had merely followed instructions to people to stay put wherever they were.

According to reports, around 8,000 people from across the country had attended a three-day event at the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin area of south Delhi recently. Many of them had contacted the deadly coronavirus. 

The preachers then moved in batches to Telangana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and conducted group meetings in mosques and held several meetings. In the process, they infected several others with the deadly coronavirus. 

The Markaz, also known as Banglewali Masjid, is a six-storey building complex that can house up to 2,000 people. It shares its wall with the Nizamuddin Police Station and is adjacent to the famous shrine of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya.

The outfit’s international headquarters in the Nizamuddin locality, where around 1,600 persons were stuck in the wake of a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, was completely evacuated on Tuesday.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said on Tuesday that 24 people have been found coronavirus positive in the Nizamuddin Markaz that has turned into ground zero of the new cases spiralling out of control following an ijtima (religious congregation) in mid-March.

Giving details of the case reported in Nizamuddin, Jain said that the government is not certain of the numbers, but it is estimated that close to 1,500-1,700 people had assembled at the Markaz building.

The Delhi Health Minister said that 1,033 people have been evacuated so far of which 334 have been sent to hospital and 700 have been sent to the quarantine centre. Jain confirmed that 24 cases have been found to be positive for coronavirus.

Earlier, a high-level meeting was held at the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the situation pertaining to the coronavirus spread in the Markaz building, 24 hours after the news of the Tablighi spread like wildfire.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendra Jain and other officials were present in the meeting.

Delhi Police, with the help of the Health Department had earlier shifted around 800 people from the Markaz building in Nizamuddin to various hospitals.

Meanwhile, intense sanitization is also underway in the Nizamuddin locality. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is also being prepared as a contingency plan for creating capacity for isolation.

The Nizamuddin Dargah has clarified that it has no connection with the Tableghi Jamat Markaz of Nizamuddin. The dargah had stopped gatherings in line with advisories during second week of March. The Markaz is half a kilometre away from the dargah.

The outfit has centres in over 200 countries.