Rajat Sharma

Concealing fact about foreigners in Nizamuddin is an anti-national crime

AKB2610Regular viewers of our show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ may remember, on Friday I had mentioned the case of a 65-year-old man in Kashmir, who died of Coronavirus. He had concealed his travel history about attending a Tableeghi Jamaat gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin He also visited Deoband and Jammu, while returning home. He probably did not know that he was a carrier of the dreaded virus and was part of a virulent chain reaction that triggered among more than 1,400 devotees in Nizamuddin, who are now virus suspects.

The result was: in Kashmir itself, 4 people were infected with virus, and nearly 150 people had to be kept in isolation. The Nizamuddin gathering of 1,400 devotees included more than 200 foreigners from 15 countries. The most worrying part was that these foreigners did not inform police about their travel history, nor did they follow quarantine or the guidelines for screening. All these foreigners were sent in buses to hospitals on Monday for screening and isolation.

Late at night, the Centre directed that the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium to be converted into a temporary hospital for Coronavirus patients in view of the Nizamuddin incident. The UP police directed its SPs in 19 districts to trace all those people who had attended the Tableeghi Jamaat Markaz (centre) gathering.

The Markaz in Nizamuddin was sealed off from other Nizamuddin buildings late at night. Similarly a mosque inside Deoband was also sealed off. A late night report said, six persons who had attended the Tableeghi Jamaat gathering in Delhi have died of Coronavirus in Telangana, according to the Chief Minister’s Office.

To understand the magnitude of this crisis, I will give you travel details of the Coronavirus patient who died in Kashmir. He was in Kashmir on February 15, stayed in Delhi for 3 days from March 5, attended Tableeghi Jamaat gathering where devotees from Indonesia and Malaysia were present, went to Deoband (UP) on March 9 and came in contact with hundreds of teachers and students, returned to Jammu by train on March 11, stayed in Samba from March 12 to 16, returned to Srinagar via Jammu, attended a religious gathering in Srinagar on March 18, and on March 22 he fell sick. He was found Coronavirus positive the next day, and he died on March 26.

Just imagine the magnitude of the problem as to how the virus could have spread among thousands of people in different states. Tableegi Jamaat Markaz works as the centre in India for spread of Islam across the globe. These people are then sent in groups to different districts and states to spread the message of Islam. I was surprised to watch a doctor at the Jamaat claiming on Monday that these devotees had no Coronavirus symptoms and they had no information about isolation guidelines.

There are senior Muslim leaders who are aware about the gravity of this pandemic threat. The Darul Uloom university in Deoband has offered one of its buildings to the UP government to set up an isolation ward for patients, while Jamiatul Islam Hind leader Maulana Mehmood Madani has offered to the Centre any building or space to house 10,000 Coronavirus patients. These steps must be appreciated, but the negligence on part of the Tableegh is unpardonable.

I am surprised how people can be so negligent. People know how this deadly virus strikes and how one should protect oneself from such a virus by following guidelines. Everybody knows that most of the cases were due to travellers importing this virus from foreign countries, and yet the Tableeghi Jamaat withheld information about the presence of foreigners at its centre for more than three weeks.

Who stopped the Tableeghi Jamaat from imparting this crucial information about foreigners to the authorities? This is a crime against society, against our country. At a time when the entire nation, as one, is enforcing our Prime Minister’s call for 21-day lockdown and is staying at home, locking up all work and business, how did these people withheld the information about the presence of foreigners? These people have behaved as if they are enemies of our country.

To conceal the fact about presence of foreigners, to defy quarantine and screening guidelines, and then to organize a big gathering, is to invite disaster. I think, time has come to take action against those who are flouting the guidelines to prevent Coronavirus.

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