Covid-19 outbreak: Nizamuddin RWA says police should have curtailed gathering
The residents’ welfare association (RWA) of Nizamuddin West Monday said it will soon issue an advisory to the locals to stay indoors and follow the lockdown rules even as it prepared to allay fear and panic that gripped the area after 10 persons, who were part of a congregation of about 200 at the Tablighi Jamaat Markaz in the area, tested positive for Covid-19.
Officials said over 2,000 delegates, including from Indonesia and Malaysia, attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin West from March 1-15. The south Delhi neighbourhood was virtually sealed with the Delhi Police, CRPF personnel and medical teams reaching the locality on Sunday night. At least 100 people have been tested. The results are expected on Tuesday.
Buses have been kept in readiness for shifting people to quarantine centres. Hotels in the area that had housed people from the congregation have been sealed.
Local residents said one of the persons who tested positive is from Nizamuddin area. RWA members alleged that the police should have curtailed the gathering. “We got to know about the positive cases on Monday morning. The mosque has people coming from all over the world. If they were gathering here, the police must have known about it and should have taken timely action. People are frightened. We will issue a circular asking them to not panic and stay indoors,” said SM Umar, general secretary, Nizamuddin West RWA.
Contact tracing has revealed that people from this gathering have travelled to states such as Bihar, Telangana, Odisha and Karnataka. The initial coronavirus death in Jammu and Kashmir has also been traced to this gathering.
The Union home ministry had banned all religious gatherings and ordered the closure of all religious places when a countrywide lockdown was announced last Tuesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“We had informed the police earlier about the event and the number of people gathering there. Before the Janta curfew on March 22, there was a meeting there. However, after the lockdown, people remained inside after which we saw many of them being taken away over the last two days,” said Mohammad Umair, social activist and resident of Basti Nizamuddin.
DCP(Southeast) RP Meena, however, denied that the local police had received complaints about the gathering at the mosque.
The Markaz, also known as Banglewali Masjid, is a six-storey building complex that can house up to 2,000 people. It shares its wall with the Nizamuddin police station and is adjacent to the famous shrine of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya. The mosque adjoins Basti Nizamuddin, which has a population of over 25,000.
“From Sunday evening, when the news broke, a group of 10-12 residents armed with canes have been standing guard in the area so that nobody steps out. Later, the police also closed the entry and exit,” said Umair.
Altamash Nizami, member of the management committee of Nizamuddin Dargah, which is located in the middle of the area, said, “The Tablighi Jamaat outfit had an event there two weeks ago in which people from across the country and the world joined in. They met and stayed for a few days and later went to different areas. There are arrangements for food and stay inside and people can stay up to 40 days.”
Delhi Police officers said beginning March 22 (the day of Janta Curfew) police teams stood outside the mosque and stopped people from gathering in the area. Police said until March 22, people from abroad and other states continued to visit the mosque. Outsiders were completely stopped from March 22.
Deputy commissioner of police (south-east) RP Meena said, “The whole city is in lockdown. Now with some people showing symptoms of Covid-19 in Nizamuddin area, we have posted more police personnel at market places and the lanes to ensure that people follow the lockdown rules. Our officers on the ground are also helping the government officials in Basti Nizamuddin.”
Joint commissioner of police (southern range) Devesh Srivastava said police are assisting World Health Organization and health department officials who are screening people in Nizamuddin, especially inside the mosque complex and sending them to quarantine.