- The Tablighi Jamaat gathering was organised in March in Delhi
- The event "also" led to Covid spread among "many persons": government
- Union Home Ministry gave written response in Rajya Sabha
A huge gathering of the Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat in March in Delhi, despite orders issued by various authorities after the outbreak of coronavirus, "also" led to the spread of the virus among "many persons", the government today informed parliament.
"As reported by Delhi Police, despite guidelines/orders issued by various authorities in pursuance of the outbreak of COVID-19 a huge gathering assembled inside a closed premise; over a protracted period of time, without any semblance of social distancing or provision of masks and sanitizers. This also caused spread of Corona Virus infection amongst many persons (sic)," Minister of State (Home Affairs) G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha in his written response to a question on whether the gathering was a "major reason" for the spread of coronavirus in Delhi and other states.
Hundreds of people - both foreigners and locals - were tested positive for coronavirus after they had either attended the religious gathering organised by Tablighi Jamaat at a mosque in Delhi's Nizamuddin locality in March or had come in contact with the followers of the sect.
The Home Ministry was responding to a question from Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai who asked the ministry to specify whether the spread of coronavirus in Delhi and other states was due to the assembly of people for the gathering. The Sena MP also sought details of the number of people who attended the gathering and the number of people arrested so far.
The Home Ministry said that as many 2,361 persons of Tablighi Jamaat were evacuated by Delhi Police on March 29.
"233 persons of Jamaat have been arrested by Delhi Police. However, regarding Jamaat chief Maulana Mohd. Saad, investigation is underway (sic)," Mr Reddy said.
Delhi Police has so far filed 59 chargesheets against 956 foreign nationals from 36 countries. The centre has cancelled their visas and has blacklisted them.
The foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visas and had participated in religious gatherings, according the chargesheets.
Initially, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against Maulana Saad Kandhalvi, the chief of the Islamic group, and six others on March 31 under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act (2005), Foreigners Act; and other relevant sections of the law.
Delhi Police later brought charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against Maulana Saad Kandhalvi after some of the attendees of the religious congregation died due to COVID-19.
Several courts, including the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, have quashed FIRs against Tablighi Jamaat members and absolved them from charges of spreading coronavirus.