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Tablighi Jamaat coronavirus spread blame at Amit Shah door

Over 2,000 people, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, had attended the event
Anil Deshmukh
Anil Deshmukh

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 08.04.20, 09:01 PM

Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday asked if the Union home ministry headed by Amit Shah should not be blamed for the spread of the coronavirus because it had failed to stop the religious congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi last month.

The three-day congregation that took place from March 13 in southeast Delhi’s Nizamuddin has been blamed by the Centre for the jump in coronavirus cases.

“So many people congregated at the Markaz (the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters) and because of that the coronavirus spread in the states. Is not the home ministry responsible for this?” Deshmukh asked in a statement.

The minister said that after the coronavirus outbreak, the Maharashtra government had denied permission to a Tablighi Jamaat congregation of about 50,000 people at Vasai scheduled on March 15-16.

Why did the Union home ministry give permission for the congregation organised by the Tablighi Jamaat at its headquarters in Nizamuddin, he asked.

“The Markaz where the congregation took place is very near to Nizamuddin police station but despite that they did not stop the event. Is not the home ministry responsible for this?” Deshmukh asked.

Delhi police report to Union home minister Shah.

Deshmukh also alleged “secret talks” between Jamaat chief Maulana Md Saad and national security adviser Ajit Doval in the small hours of March 29.

“Who had sent NSA Doval to the Markaz at 2am and why? Is this the job of the NSA or the Delhi police commissioner?” he asked.

The minister asked why Saad absconded after Doval visited the outfit’s headquarters and wanted to know why the NSA and the Delhi police commissioner were now silent on the issue.

“What were the secret talks that took place between Doval and Maulana Saad past midnight after the former visited the Jamaat headquarters in Nizamuddin? Why did Maulana Saad abscond a day after their meeting and where is he now?” the statement added.

On Tuesday, Deshmukh who belongs to the NCP, had warned 50 to 60 Jamaat members who attended the Nizamuddin event of stern action after they failed to report to the authorities despite several appeals.

Delhi police had last week registered a case against Maulana Saad and others for organising the meet in violation of government restrictions on gatherings in view of the outbreak. The Markaz has denied any wrongdoing. It had earlier issued a statement saying it had informed Delhi police and officials of the Arvind Kejriwal government about the three-day meet.

Navaid Hameed, the president of the India Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of Muslim organisations, had asked why the government issued visas to foreigners to attend the event.

“Why did officials not subject the foreigners to any medical check-up and quarantine them at the airport? It’s a big failure on the part of the government. Why did they not ask them to disperse on March 13 itself?” he had asked.

After the controversy erupted, officials of the Delhi government and the home ministry had resorted to a blame game. Kejriwal had said that any officer found guilty of dereliction of duty in the Markaz case would be punished, but so far no action has been taken against anyone.

Sources in the Union home ministry said NSA Doval had visited the Markaz at 2am on March 29 and met Maulana Saad and asked him to get the occupants tested and quarantined. Around 200 of the visitors were later taken to hospitals in Delhi on March 29 and March 30 for tests.

The national security establishment, headed by Doval, is said to have close contacts with ulemas, including people from the Tablighi Jamaat, in India and abroad as part of the government’s outreach programme.

Over 2,000 people, including from Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event.

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