(Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP)

New Delhi: Around 1,600 persons are stuck in Tablighi Jamaat's international headquarters in southwest Delhi, including 250 foreigners, due to suspension of all international and domestic flights and the subsequent nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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 Jaiprakash hospital had returned a coronavirus positive report. Asked about the coronavirus positive cases, group spokesperson Dr Mohammed Shoaib Ali claimed that the hospital concerned had not given them any such report. Even the hospital concerned had not issued any statement or report in this regard till the time of filing of the report.

The religious group has its international headquarters, called Nizamuddin Markaz, in the middle of Nizamuddin colony in southwest Delhi, from where it originally started. It has centres in over 200 countries. Police sources said the stuck persons had been advised to follow the social distancing norms.

Even a quarantine ward has been set up in tents within the complex to lodge people for some days after they arrive from outside. A top police officer said, on the condition of anonymity, that the complex can house 5,000 persons. Before the 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced from March 24 midnight, there were thousands of persons present there, he said.

As per information available with IANS, foreign nationals stuck at the HQ could include as many as 200 from Indonesia, 30 from Thailand, 10-15 from Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia.

When PM Modi first announced a lockdown on March 18, there were over 5,000 persons present at the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters, confirmed Ali. He said that area SDM and other officials had helped set up quarantine and isolation facilities on the complex, with the round-the-clock presence of doctors to look after the stranded persons.

He said soon after the announcement people started to leave the complex, even as the group started contacting embassies concerned to ensure speedy travel arrangements for their respective citizens present at the HQs. Around 20-25 nationals of Saudi Arabia were taken away by its Embassy here and lodged in quarantine facility.

Ali said that they had begun to act on the police advice on March 21 to get the Tablighi headquarters evacuated. Even after making all efforts, around 2,000 persons were still left stuck in the complex as of March 22.

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Free Press Journal