People get tested for coronavirus in New Delhi | Representational image
People get tested for coronavirus in New Delhi | Representational image
Photo: PTI

On Tuesday evening a case was registered against Maulana Saad and others of Tablighi Jamaat under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 and other sections of the IPC. They had violated government directions given to the management of Markaz of Basti Nizamuddin, regarding restrictions on gatherings, the Delhi Police Commissioner said.

Earlier in March, Tablighi Jamaat had organised an event in Delhi's Nizamuddin area. The gathering was attended by over 1,700 to 1,800 people from both India and abroad.

Cut to now, and nine participants of the congregation have died of the coronavirus infection in India alone. Many other have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Abroad, 19 people have so far tested positive, and one individual has died.

According to officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1339 Tablighi Jamaat workers have so far been shifted to quarantine facilities and hospitals, while the rest of them were being screened for the virus. The Delhi police also filed a case against the Maulavi of Jama Masjid, Wazirabad. According to an ANI report, 12 foreigners who had attended the earlier event are within the mosque. They will soon be removed and quarantined.

According to the Delhi Police, 48 foreigners who had attended the Markaz gathering in Nizamuddin, have been located in five mosques of North-East District of Delhi. Their information has been given by Police to the District Commissioner for further action.

The Delhi Police has also warned personnel deployed at various pickets/barricades in Delhi in connection with maintaining of law and order in Delhi regarding the virus outbreak may be targeted by suspected ISIS operatives.

In other parts of the country too, the number of cases has risen after the event in Delhi.

To give a few examples:

In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 17 foreign nationals from Indonesia and Thailand besides two Indian Muslim clerics who were in attendance have been rounded up and quarantined, a senior official said on Tuesday. Sixteen out of 190 persons who returned to Bahraich from foreign in March this year, however, are still untraceable, Bahraich Superintendent of Police Vipin Mishra said.

In Agra, the Police have so far rounded up 89 faithfuls who are believed to have attended the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Nizammuddin Markaz in New Delhi from March 13-15 from different mosques and localities in the city. The hunt continues for another half a dozen people, according to sources.

Tamil Nadu on Tuesday saw as many as 57 new COVID-19 cases, the highest spike in a single day so far and 50 of them had travelled to Delhi to attend a religious congregation recently, the government said. The aggregate number of virus cases stood at 124 in Tamil Nadu, with at least 77 of them having links to the congregation held in the national capital recently.

The Manipur government said it has found out 14 people who were linked" to the religious congregation held in Delhi's Nizamuddin earlier this month, though 39 others are still outside the state.

In Kerala, the government has so far identified 78 people from the state who were 'associated' with Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz Masjid in New Delhi and quarantined them.

The Gujarat police on Tuesday said some persons from the state had attended an Islamic congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi that has become a key source for the spread of coronavirus in the country, and process is in to identity and locate them. From Surat alone, as many as 76 people had attended the gathering at Markaz Nizamuddin, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat, earlier this month, officials said. Now, authorities are trying to locate them.

The organisation, which has in the past been linked to terror organisations has now come under scrutiny from all quarters. According to an IANS report, the organisation has had a long history of ties with Pakistan-based banned terror outfits like Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. The original founders of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), the terror group known for the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in 1999, were members of Tablighi Jamaat, as per Pakistani security analysts and Indian investigators.

As per WikiLeaks documents, some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda suspects detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay had stayed in the premises of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin West, New Delhi, several years ago, the report said.

The religious organisation was also suspected of involvement in the burning of 59 Hindu Kar Sevaks in the 2002 Godhra train torching incident in Gujarat, which led to communal rioting in the state that claimed several lives, the IANS report said.

According to an article written by India's intelligence official and security expert late B. Raman, the branches of the Tablighi Jamaat in Pakistan and Bangladesh "gained adverse attention from time to time for association with jihadi terrorist organisations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which are members of the International Islamic Front For Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People formed by the late Osama bin Laden in 1998."

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