Covid19: Delhi’s Markaz Nizamuddin says it has not violated any provisions of law

Markaz Nizamuddin in Delhi, the international headquarters of Tabilghi Jamaat and the place where a religious congregation left several people affected with coronavirus, on Tuesday said that it has not violated any provision of the law, and offered its premises for setting up a quarantine facility.

The religious institution in the capital city, which works as a headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat for close to 100 years, will cooperate with the authorities, it said in a statement.

The Markaz statement referred to the directive of the Delhi government to take legal action against their administration. “During this entire episode, Markaz Nizamuddin never violated any provision of law, and always tried to act with compassion and reason towards the visitors who came to Delhi from different States. It did not let them violate the medical guidelines by thronging ISBTs or roaming on streets,” the statement reads.

Delhi government on Tuesday said twenty-four people, who took part in a religious congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin earlier this month, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“700 people who attended this congregation have been quarantined, while around 335 people have been admitted to hospitals,” Delhi Health Minister told media.

Six people in Telangana have died after attending the event while some of the deaths in states like Maharashtra may also have links to this event.

The administration of Markaz also said that they would like to humbly offer the entire premises as a quarantine facility to help the authorities tide-over the challenge of coronavirus pandemic.

“Visitors/guests/devotees/worshippers from across the globe throng the place for pre-scheduled programmes and all the programmes are decided a year in advance in order to facilitate visitors from far-off places to plan their participation,” it said.

The Markaz said when the Prime Minister announced the ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22, their ongoing program was discontinued immediately, but a large number of people were stuck in the premises due to the closure of railway services on March 21. They added that the Markaz observed the ‘Janata Curfew’ and the visitors stayed put in the premises.

“Before the Janta Curfew could be lifted at 9 PM, the Chief Minister of Delhi announced lockdown of Delhi beginning at 6 AM on March 23 till March 31, thereby further diminishing any chances of these visitors availing road transport for their journey back home,” the statement says.

They also clarified that around 1,500 people left the Markaz on March 23 by “availing whatever meagre transport was available”.

On the evening of March 23, PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide 21-day lockdown, the statement said, adding there was no option for Markaz Nizamuddin but to accommodate the stranded visitors with prescribed medical precautions.

On March 24, a notice was issued by SHO of the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station seeking closure of Markaz premises.

They told media that the Markaz responded to the notice the same day by stating that around 1,000 visitors belonging to different States and nationalities were present in Markaz while 1,500 had left.

The Markaz had requested the SDM of the area to issue vehicle passes so that the remaining people could be sent back to their native places outside of Delhi.

“It is relevant to indicate here that lists of 17 vehicles with registration numbers along with the names of the drivers plus their license details were submitted to the SDM so that the stranded visitors/guests could be ferried towards their destination. The requisite permission is still awaited,” the statement said.

It said on March 27, six persons were taken for a medical check-up while the next day, the SDM and WHO team visited the Markaz and 33 persons were taken for medical checkup to Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital.

On March 28, another notice was issued, by the Office of ACP, Lajpat Nagar, reiterating the prohibitory orders and warning of legal action, the statement said, adding, that “this being totally oblivious of the above deliberations and steps that had already been taken by Markaz in consultation with the authorities”. The Markaz said it replied to the second notice as well.

“There was an International Conference going on there when the lockdown was suddenly announced. They kept the authorities informed at all times and kept requesting them to allow the visitors to be escorted out. Unfair to blame them,” senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said in a tweet.

“Now the #TablighiJamat will become a convenient excuse for some to vilify Muslims everywhere as if we created & spread #COVID around the world,” PDP leader Omar Abdullah tweeted following the backlash from BJP and RSS twitter handles.

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