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Cabinet secretary tells states to trace Jamaat attendees on ‘war footing’

Cabinet secretary tells states to trace Jamaat attendees on ‘war footing’

Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on Wednesday directed all state governments to, on a “war footing” trace all the people who came in contact with participants in the Tablighi Jamaat’s congregation last month in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin, which has become the country’s biggest coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspot.

Gauba informed all state chief secretaries and director generals of police (DGPs) in a video-conference that the unfettered travel of Tablighi Jamaat followers to various parts of India after the congregation has put at risk the government’s efforts o contain the virus.

At he meeting, the central government’s top civil servant also asked state police forces to take action against foreigners who participated in the congregation as well as the organizers of the event for violating visa conditions. Many of the foreign participants came into India on a tourist visa, while they should have ideally come in on a religious missionary visa.

Gauba’s directive comes as the Centre strives to ensure the success of the three-week lockdown of India aimed at breaking the chain of transmission of the rapidly spreading virus. The effort is to trace and isolate the people who may have come in contacts with the thousands of Jamaat followers who attended the congregation and then fanned out across the country.

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According to estimates by Delhi Police and the Intelligence Bureau, around 6,500 to 7,000 people, including at least over 300 foreigners, attended the congregation in rotation at Markaz Nizamuddin , the headquarters of the Islamic missionary organisation, starting on March 10, an official who didn’t wish to be named said. The main event concluded on March 15, but followers of the sect came calling at the headquarters until March 23.

The ministry of home affairs, after initial cases of Covid-19 from among the congregants were recorded, issued an advisory to the states on March 28 in which it mentioned that an estimated 2,000 foreigners from 70 countries, who came to India on tourist visas, spread out across India for the Tablighi Jamaat’s religious work over five-six weeks.

A majority of the foreigners belonged to Bangladesh (493), Indonesia (472), Malaysia (150) and Thailand (142).

Central agencies are now tracing how many more among these 2,000 foreigners came to Delhi or travelled back and forth to different states.

The Delhi government and police have stated that the sect had been warned against holding the congregation and had been asked to vacate the Markaz building.

The Tablighi Jamaat participants, who violated the tourist visa norms by travelling across India on religious activities after arriving in the country on tourist visas, are now being treated as biggest carriers of the Coronavirus in India. For example, in Andhra Pradesh alone, a third of the Covid-19 patients were those who attended the congregation.

The government also recently asked all its missions abroad to stop giving tourist visas to any foreigner in future “who is likely to use it for Tablighi activities”.

Gauba also asked the states to implement the Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan Yojana,aimed at providing benefits to the poor for loss of work because of the national lockdown, within a week. “This will involve large cash transfer to beneficiaries. It should be organized in a staggered manner to ensure social distance,” said a statement fro the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

The cabinet secretary also directed the states to coordinate and manage the movement of migrant workers in ensuring lockdown measures. The meeting noted that the lockdown was being implemented effectively all over the country. The states were asked to ensure that interstate movement of goods was allowed without any hindrance while maintaining social distance.

Gauba also asked the officials to ensure that manufacturing of essential goods and supply chains of such goods were maintained.

Published at Thu, 02 Apr 2020 05:13:27 +0000

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