At a coronavirus quarantine facility in Delhi's Narela, members of Islamic religious body Tablighi Jamaat, are overflowing with gratitude for the medical professionals who took care of them during their illness. They say that in their prayers during a lonely Ramzan, they thank not only Allah, but also the "angels in white" who saved their lives without any discrimination, when many in the country turned hostile towards the oragnisation.
Their gratitude is a contrast to the instances of harassment and violence against healthcare workers, who have been targeted in parts of the country by vigilantes who blamed them for the spread of the virus. Battling that bias has been a job for the government, which has issued multiple messages. On Sunday, the armed forces had pitched in with flypasts, flower showers, bands and lit-up warships in the honour of the corona warriors.
"Doctors are like farishta (angels) for me," Mohd Ghouse, 42, told NDTV on phone. "When I reached Jhajjar, I was scared as Tabligh was being blamed for spreading coronavirus in Delhi. But the doctors at the AIIMS Jhajjar took care of me for a month without any bias," added the 42-year-old.
Waseem Ahmed 45, a dealer of sewing machine parts, contracted coronavirus after business trip to Kerala. He was also admitted at AIIMS Jhajjar for treatment. "When people of our community were being painted as villains, it was a relief that doctors did not think like that," he said.
The Islamic religious body made headlines in March after it turned out to be one of the biggest hotspots of the virus in the country, hosting a religious gathering after the outbreak in violation of the Central guidelines.
The man from Tamil Nadu wants to go home for Ramazan, "but don't know when I will be allowed," he said. He is not alone. Around 800 people at the quarantine facility in Narela want to go home, but have been stranded due to the lockdown.
"Most people here are from Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh," a senior official at the facility told NDTV. Now special trains have started running, but it depends on their home states how soon they are allowed to return. According to the rules, both the host state and the home state have to be on board for return of stranded migrants.
Abdul Rashid, a tailor from Assam, has been forced to live at the Dwarka quarantine facility for a month even though he never contracted coronavirus.
"I came to Markaz on March 1 and was there for 30 days. In April, my group was shifted to a hospital. I tested negative but others in my group tested positive," he said. He was placed in quarantine as a precautionary measure. "I miss my family. Hopefully, we will be able to celebrate Eid together," he said.
Around 3,000 Indian and 800 foreign Tabligh Jamaat members were evacuated from Markaz Nizamuddin in March. Data from the Union home ministry showed 1,080 of them had tested positive for coronavirus.
Other Tablighi members, after attending the meet, had dispersed across the country, leading to a surge in coronavirus cases in many states. It took the authorities the better part of a month to trace them and their contacts and quarantine them.