The Tablighi Jamaat religious gathering of more than 3,000 Muslims held in March has created one of the biggest Chinese Corona Virus clusters in India, with outbreaks in at least six Indian states. New Delhi government orders had expressly forbidden gatherings of more than 200 persons.
Al-Jazeera Authorities in the Indian capital on Tuesday sealed off the premises of Tablighi Jamaat, accusing it of organizing a religious gathering from March 13-15 and ignoring the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Nizamuddin Markaz gathering in New Delhi, which attracted thousands of devotees some of whom were carriers of the virus, has become an excuse for several sections of India to paint Indian Muslims as bioterrorists. The hashtag #CoronaJihad is evidence. Many Hindus are blaming the Muslim community for the spread of coronavirus in India.
This prompted Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, to tweet that the anti-Muslim sentiments are “more dangerous than any virus nature could ever conjure up.”
As authorities in both the countries lead massive search teams to track down those who attended the event organized by a missionary group called Tablighi Jamaat, New Delhi’s city administration has identified the neighbourhood of Nizamuddin as one of the major clusters in the country.
VICE The Tablighi Jamaat gathering in New Delhi has led to positive COVID-19 cases in at least six Indian states including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Telangana and Maharashtra, among others. As the total number of positive coronavirus cases crosses 1,300, many reports are calling this gathering as a “super spreader” of the infection, which has reportedly led to deaths in Telangana, Srinagar, Andaman and Nicobar.
Local reports say that around 2,500 people from different nationalities assembled on March 10, who then dispersed to different parts of the country after the event.
“During the probe, it came to light that more than 3,000 people were in the markaz (mosque) between March 10 and March 15,” a Delhi police official told India Today. “Among the participants, foreign nationals from Indonesia, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arab, China, Ukraine, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh were present.
After the lockdown, many of them left the place but around 1,600 were stranded inside the [Nizamuddin center in Delhi] including 200 foreign nationals.”
Tablighi Jamaat is a Deobandi Sunni Muslim missionary movement, and every year, its followers congregate in different cities of South Asia. At the moment, the group’s branch in New Delhi has been flagged as a coronavirus hotspot by the health ministry.
According to The Hindu, around 824 foreign Tablighi members, who came on tourist visa and participated in the March meeting, are set to be blacklisted by the Home Ministry. The Tablighi members have been under the radar in the Asian region for over two weeks now, after it was reported that a 16,000-strong gathering at their four-day conclave in Malaysia has created “the largest known viral vector in Southeast Asia.” The aftermath of the gathering led to Malaysia sealing its borders, and positive cases in countries like Brunei and Thailand.