Following a major health scare that happened after several COVID-19 positive cases emerged from an event held in Nizamuddin Markaz, Punjab Health Department on Tuesday gave a 24-hour deadline to all Tablighi Jamaat attendees, "who were hiding in the state," to report to the nearest police station, or else face criminal prosecution.
As per an official release, the spokesperson of the department said all those who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event at Nizamuddin Markaz and were currently in Punjab should report and appear for COVID-19 screening within the next 24 hours.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has already issued an advisory on March 28 and, in its continuation, reiterated its directions to all the Chief Secretaries/Advisors to Administrators of all States/UTs and DGPs in this regard on April 4. An FIR was earlier registered against Tablighi Jamaat head Maulana Saad and others under the Epidemic Disease Act 1897, in the national capital.
On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Joint Secretary, Lal Aggarwal had said that as many as 1445 cases in India have links with the Tablighi Jamaat gathering. Till Tuesday, 10 am, there were 91 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Punjab with 8 deaths and a total of 9,695 were quarantined in the state.
Earlier, the Haryana government had also set deadlines for Tablighi Jamaat attendees to disclose their information. Home minister Anil Vij said that the attendees are advised to disclose the information till 5 pm on April 8, following which strict action will be taken against them.
The Health Ministry stated that 1032 Tabhlighi Jamaat attendees have tested positive till date - which amounts to over 30% of all positive cases in India. Overall 3400 people had attended the event - Tamil Nadu: 1500 - 110 have tested positive, rest in quarantine; Gujarat: 1500 attendees - tracing ongoing (29 attendees tested negative); Telangana - 1100, 65 are being traced; 6 have died, 76 tested positive; Uttar Pradesh - 569 (most in quarantine); Haryana- 503 (all traced & quarantined); Himachal Pradesh - 157 (All traced & quarantined); Madhya Pradesh - 107 (trace ongoing), Chattisgarh - 101, Bihar -81, West Bengal -71, Assam -100 - (67 still in Delhi, others quarantined, 1 positive); Arunachal Pradesh -1. Currently, India's COVID-19 tally is at 3374 with 77 deaths.
Sources reported that a religious programme was organised 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, 1500 of these attendees returned to several parts of the country, possibly spreading the COVID-19 virus.
The mosque has claimed that while they were letting small groups of attendees leave from the venue prior to the Janta Curfew, several were stuck in the area owing to the nationwide lockdown. All 2631 occupants have been evacuated and the building has been sanitised. The Delhi Crime Branch which has booked the Markaz chief Maulana Saad for violating lockdown is currently searching for him by raiding possible hideouts.
(With Inputs from ANI)