New Delhi: About 2,100 foreigners had visited India for Tablighi Jamaat activities since 1 January this year, of which approximately 216 were staying at the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, home ministry sources told ThePrint Tuesday.
The sources added that apart from the 216 foreigners staying at the Nizamuddin Markaz, 824 were dispersed in different parts of the country as on 21 March, while the rest “might have left the country” before the lockdown.
Details of these 824 foreigners had been shared on 21 March with the police in different states to identify them, get them medically screened and quarantine them, a source said.
Tablighi Jamaat, a non-political global Sunni Islamic evangelical movement of Indian origin, has emerged as the “largest known viral vector” of the coronavirus in South Asia and India.
Series of steps
Giving details of the response by the ministry, sources said all the Tablighi Jamaat workers staying at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz were being medically screened since 26 March.
“So far, 1,203 Tablighi Jamaat workers have been medically screened. Of these, 303 had symptoms of Covid-19 and were referred to different hospitals in Delhi,” a source said.
“The rest of them have been moved to different quarantine centres at Narela, Bakkarwala and Sultanpuri. This process will continue throughout today to move every Tabligh Jamaat worker out of Nizamuddin Markaz,” the source said.
On 28 March, state police were advised to collect the names of Indian Tablighi Jamaat workers from local coordinators, locate them on the ground, get them medically screened and quarantine them.
So far, about 2,137 such people have been identified in different states, a source said, adding that they are being medically examined and quarantined.
“This process is still on, and more such people would be identified and located. On 28 March, MHA also issued a detailed advisory to chief secretaries and DGPs of all states, as well as the commissioner of Delhi Police on this issue,” the source said.
Then, on 29 March, state DGPs were advised by the director of the Intelligence Bureau to trace the movement of all such Tablighi workers in their area, ascertain the people coming in contact with them, and take steps for their medical screening.
Many states have already started doing this, sources said.
How Tablighi workers operate
Tablighi Jamaat workers, both foreigners as well Indians, undertake various activities across the country throughout the year.
Various nationals, particularly from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan, come to India for Tablighi Jamaat work. All such foreign nationals usually report their arrival at the Banglewali Masjid in Hazrat Nizamuddin, sources said.
From here, they are detailed for chillah (preaching) activities to different parts of the country.
Chillah activities in all states are coordinated by district coordinators, who, in some states, are supervised by ‘State Amirs’.