Nizamuddin mosque meet could be India's super-spreader? A timeline
A spike in India's coronavirus cases has been linked to an event held in Nizamuddin, Delhi, earlier this month, and authorities are scrambling to trace possible suspects. The event has also started a conversation on Twitter, with both sides weighing in. While some deemed the event careless, others opined it's being used to justify Islamophobia. So what exactly happened? Let's tell you the timeline.
Headquartered in Delhi, Tablighi Jamaat was founded in 1926 and attempts to replicate the way Muslims lived during Prophet Muhammad's days. It has several followers in India and abroad. Nearly 250 foreign nationals had arrived in Delhi in the first week of March to attend a congregation organized by the Jamaat in Nizamuddin West. The event, spanning days, was attended by thousands of followers.
On March 13, 3,400 people attended the event at a 100-year-old mosque complex, a report in India Today said. Three days later, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that no religious or social gathering of more than 50 would be allowed, in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, the attendees continued to stay there. On March 20, ten Indonesians tested positive in Telangana.
Reportedly, even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days last Tuesday, people remained stationed at the Markaz. On March 24, Nizamuddin Police asked attendees to vacate the area, but a day later, some 1,000 people were found there. A medical team reached the spot, isolated suspected cases and shifted them to a hall.
On March 26, an Indian preacher who attended the event tested positive and died in Srinagar. The same day, the SDM visited the Markaz and summoned the Jamaat officials. A day later, six coronavirus suspects were taken away and quarantined at a facility in Jhajjar, Haryana. On March 28, the ACP of Lajpat Nagar sent a notice that the area must be vacated immediately.
Responding to ACP's letter on March 29, Jamaat officials said no new person entered the premises after the lockdown and argued that they were following PM Modi's order of staying where they were. Later that night, police officials started shifting people from there and sent them for quarantine. Till now, 1,548 people have been taken out, Kejriwal said. Of them, 1,107 are asymptomatic.
The congregation received backlash after people who attended it died of coronavirus. Six deaths in Telangana and one in Srinagar were linked to it. Separately, ten people, who returned from the event to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, tested positive. Further, the foreigners who came from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, risk getting blacklisted as they were granted tourist visas but gave religious speeches.
Meanwhile, the mosque administration said today that it tried to follow the government's diktat, but had to accommodate attendees as modes of transport were suspended. "Before the Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9 PM, the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Delhi announced lockdown of Delhi beginning at 6 AM on 23rd March 2020 till 31st March 2020," the press note reminded.
"During this episode, Markaz Nizamuddin never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi. It did not let them violate the medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs or roaming on streets," it added.