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‘Hopeful and relieved’: Tablighis begin to head home from Delhi’s quarantine centres

Delhi govt has ordered the release of all Tablighi Jamaat members who have tested negative for Covid-19. Many had been under quarantine for more than 40 days.

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New Delhi: After more than 40 days under quarantine, the process for releasing the Tablighi Jamaat members who tested negative for Covid-19 began Sunday morning.

The Delhi government had Saturday evening ordered the release of the Tablighi members kept in quarantine centres. According to the order, all those who tested negative for the virus could return to their respective states, while those residing in Delhi should be issued passes to travel back to their homes.

ThePrint had earlier reported that the children of some of the Tablighi Jamaat members had written to the Delhi government last week asking why their parents were still in quarantine, despite testing negative multiple times.

“It’s been incredibly tough without my children. My youngest is just 1.5 years old and I haven’t seen her in months,” a 35-year-old woman at the Dwarka quarantine facility, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint. The woman and her husband had come to Delhi’s Tablighi Jamaat event from Meerut in the beginning of March. What was supposed to be a one-month affair lasted much longer than that.

“We are in the process of getting our passes made. I really hope we are able to get home soon. I just want to be with family,” she added.

Also read: ‘It’s Ramzan’ — kids of Covid-negative Tablighis ask Delhi govt why they’re in quarantine

The Nizamuddin Markaz congregation 

The Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in March made headlines after it emerged as a major Covid-19 hotpot. Nearly 2,500 people participated in the event and many of them were placed under quarantine.

While the congregation was blamed for the initial spike in India’s Covid cases, some national and international media reports called it “largest known viral vector” of the disease in South Asia.

“What did they get out of keeping us here for 40 days? We have been demonised and our image is completely maligned,” said Rizwan Ahmed from the Narela quarantine centre.

Ahmed and his wife are now awaiting a bus to take them back to their home in Saharanpur, but they are upset at how everything played out in the past few months.

“At Tablighi Jamaat congregations, we only learn about piety. There is a lot of emphasis on good deeds, cleanliness and hygiene. So I was very upset with how we were portrayed,” Ahmed told ThePrint.

The organisers of the congregation had earlier defended themselves by citing a 13 March Union health ministry statement that said Covid-19 wasn’t a health emergency. 

“If they had stopped the Jamaat from holding the congregation, none of this would have happened,” Ahmed added.

Also read: Zee News, India TV, News18 India have OCD. They are still stuck on Tablighi Jamaat

Time under quarantine

Since the Delhi government’s order of release, Tablighis across various quarantine facilities said they have been filling forms with their information. 

“I am hopeful that now that they have initiated all these formalities, it means the end of our time here is near,” said Anas Syed from the Sultanpuri quarantine facility.

A Chennai resident, Syed had come to Deoband in Uttar Pradesh last year in March to study. He was supposed to head home on a holiday right after the Nizamuddin congregation. 

“But life had other plans, and I wasn’t able to go home unfortunately. I haven’t seen my parents for a year now. I am relieved they are finally letting us off,” he said.

The Tablighi Jamaat members are staying in quarantine facilities across Delhi — Dwarka, Sultanpuri, Narela and Badarpur, among others.

The Narela and Dwarka facilities are the first ones to begin the process of releasing the Tablighi Jamaat members, with government buses ferrying them home.

“A total of 15 people who were Delhi residents have been released from Narela so far. Once we are done with the Delhi residents, we will start the process of releasing Tablighis who are from other states,” Ishrat Kafeel, a doctor posted at the quarantine facility, told ThePrint

While the extended period in isolation has been a cause of anxiety, the time away from worldly affairs hasn’t been all bad for some.

“I spent most of my time here praying, reciting the Quran. I was of course worried, but I also got the time to focus solely on my prayers,” 42-year-old Farooq Basha from Chennai said. Basha is at the Sultanpuri quarantine facility, awaiting his release.

Basha spent the last 16 days fasting for Ramzan. 

“There were no issues related to food or stay here. So I am thankful to the authorities,” he said.

Also read: Tablighis donate plasma, urge others to be donors as they look to put Covid controversy behind

Plasma donation by Tablighis

Basha was also one of the first ones to donate plasma for plasma therapy treatment, after he recovered from Covid-19.

Both Basha and Syed said that Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad’s appeal to the members to donate their plasma motivated them to do so.

Saad, the cleric who led the Jamaat’s congregation and was later booked for culpable homicide, had issued a letter appealing to all recovered Jamaat members to donate their plasma.

“I knew this was a way to show my gratitude to God as well as everyone who treated me,” Basha told ThePrint.

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  1. Hopeful and relieved?
    Just be grateful that you are not in China. In that country, law breaking anti-national criminals like the Tablighis “disappear”.

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