New Delhi: It’s a difficult Ramzan for 75-year-old Rizwan Ahmed who has been in a quarantine facility for over 30 days, despite testing negative for the novel coronavirus three times.
Ahmed and his wife Naseema, both members of the Tablighi Jamaat, were brought from the Nizamuddin Markaz to the Narela quarantine facility on 30 March. A heart patient with three stents, Ahmed ran out of his medicines a week ago.
“The authorities here managed to arrange a medicine later, but it’s not the same as the one I have been having. I can’t take any risks with my medicines,” Ahmed told ThePrint.
Ahmed’s son Khursheed Rabbani eventually wrote a letter to the Delhi government, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office. The letter, accessed by ThePrint, stated: “My father is heart patient and his all medicines are finished. He is without his medicines for the last many days. God forbid, if anything untoward happens to him, then who will be responsible for this serious lapse?”
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in March saw the participation of nearly 2,500 people, many of whom travelled to different parts of the country and were later placed under quarantine.
In Delhi, the members were taken from Nizamuddin to different facilities in Narela, Sultanpuri, Dwarka and Badarpur, among others.
“If they can arrange trains for migrants, they certainly can for the Tablighi Jamaat members stuck in Delhi,” Rabbani told ThePrint.
ThePrint spoke to Deepak Arjun Shinde, the district magistrate of north Delhi, in this regard. While he refused to comment on why Tablighi Jamaat members are being kept in quarantine even after testing negative, he said he will work as directed by the government.
“I haven’t received any order from the government to release them yet,” Shinde said.
Delhi govt to launch app
A doctor posted at the Narela quarantine facility told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity, “More than 50 per cent of the Tablighis we have here have tested negative. They can be released.
“We are awaiting the test results of those who previously tested positive. We have spoken to Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain. He has said that the moment the Union home ministry clears the matter, we will realise those who have tested negative twice.”
A Delhi government source told ThePrint it is going to launch an app pertaining to this matter Wednesday.
“All the migrant labourers and Tablighi Jamaat members who have tested negative will be released from the quarantine centres after registering on the app,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.
ThePrint approached the Delhi health department via e-mail for an official response, but did not receive a reply until the time of publishing this report.
No response from home ministry
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah earlier this week, seeking the discharge of 38 people from Telangana who have been kept in quarantine centres in Delhi since 30 March. Previously, the Delhi Minorities Commission too had brought up the issue of extended quarantine of Jamaat members.
However, despite these demands, no Tablighi Jamaat members have been released yet.
A Delhi health department source said officials have sent another reminder to the Centre in this regard.
“We have sent a reminder to the central government to check about the release of the Tablighis who tested negative,” this source said.
On 2 April, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued standard operating procedure for the movement of people completing quarantine in government facilities. It had said: “Persons testing negative for Covid-19, and as per standard health protocol, would be released from the said quarantine facility.”
But it added: “This will not apply to a group wherein even one person tests positive, and these persons are to return to their homes by making their own transport arrangements.”
Donated plasma after recovery, but still in quarantine
Many other Tablighi Jamaat members say they are “bewildered” and “confused” as to why they aren’t being allowed to go home. Several Tablighi Jamaat members last week had donated their plasma for the Covid-19 plasma therapy treatment.
“I tested positive the first time, underwent treatment and then fully recovered. I have even donated my plasma for the therapy. I don’t have a clue why I am still here,” Muhammad Abu Bakr, another member of the Jamaat at the Narela quarantine centre, said.
The extended quarantine hasn’t just been difficult for those at the centres, but also their family members back home.
Danish Ansari, a 21-year-old resident of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, said he has had to be a “parent” to his six younger siblings, as their parents have been in quarantine for over a month.
Ansari said he too has written a letter to the Delhi government requesting the release of his parents.
“I was managing earlier, but now it’s becoming difficult for me to manage our household alone. Moreover, it’s Ramzan, and we really need our parents,” Ansari said.
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