Coronavirus | Nizamuddin centre COVID-19 cases spark a controversy

The centre is run by the Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic organisation.

A controversy erupted on Tuesday, a day after it emerged that a religious centre in Nizamuddin West in Delhi had hosted several thousand people earlier this month notwithstanding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Several prominent leaders expressed contrasting views about the situation around the centre — Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid — where hundreds of people were stationed after a religious conference was cut short due to the sudden lockdown.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

The centre is run by the Tablighi Jamaat, a global Islamic organisation.

Hashtags ‘SamaajKeDushman’ (anti-social) and Islamophobia’ were trending in the wake of the incident.

Addressing a digital press conference here, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the gathering at the centre “an irresponsible act”. He requested religious leaders across faiths to ensure no large gatherings took place in the city.

He said 441 of the 1,548 people, who were a part of the gathering, exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 and 1,107 had been sent to quarantine facilities.

Also read: Forty one Nizamuddin congregation returnees from Vizag sent to isolation ward

Mr. Kejriwal said the Delhi government has asked the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to direct the police to register an FIR against the administration of the centre.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Amanatullah Khan questioned the Delhi Police on why it did not make arrangements to send back the trapped people even though he had informed the DCP South East and ACP Nizamuddin at around 12 p.m. on March 23 that around 1,000 people are trapped in the Nizamuddin centre.

Party colleague and Kalkaji MLA Atishi called for ‘strong’ action against both the police and the administrators of the centre. She sought to know what action the police took against the gathering, especially when a police station is in close proximity to the centre.

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “Read the actual facts about the Nizamuddin Markaz covid cases. There was an Int Conference going on there when the lockdown was suddenly announced. They kept the authorities informed at all times & kept requesting them to allow the visitors to be escorted out. Unfair to blame them.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to say that “now the #TablighiJamat will become a convenient excuse for some to vilify Muslims everywhere as if we created & spread #COVID around the world.”

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