A day after she declined to take what she called communal questions about the controversial religious congregation in Delhi that has been labelled a COVID-19 hotspot, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday cleared some more air on the issue.
Ms Banerjee, however, prefaced clarifications with a question about how such a congregation had been allowed in the middle of a global pandemic.
"The Home Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry are not controlled by the state government. How was such a large congregation allowed at Nizamuddin? And why were things not controlled immediately," she asked.
"As soon as we were told about it, the administration worked very quietly in six hours, about 10 to 12 days ago, they traced 108 foreigners who had attended the religious event and put them in quarantine," the chief minister said.
"69 people from West Bengal were also traced and quarantined. Total of just over 200 people are now quarantined at the Haj House in Kolkata," she added.
According to sources, 177 people quarantined had attended the congregation in Delhi. The rest of the 200-odd people were quarantined after contact tracing.
No questions were taken on the issue but Ms Banerjee said, "Some secrecy has to be maintained sometimes. If some news creates panic in society, why should we spread it," she said.
"People are saying communal things about the incident but if there is a pandemic it does not see which religion caste or creed you belong to. It's like a flood of fire that spares no one. Who is Hindu or Muslim or Sikh or Christian the pandemic does not see," she said.
Among the foreigners, they were several people from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.
There was no report about any of the congregation attendees testing positive for COVID-19.
99 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Bengal and five of them have died. The state has 81 active cases right now as 13 people have recovered.