As Tablighi Jamaat-linked cases rise, Delhi govt gives them a different name
Delhi, the national capital is headed for an extended spell of the lockdown, added 166 more Covid-19 patients on Saturday pushing the total number of patients infected with the coronavirus disease to 1,069 cases.
The milestone coincided with the Delhi government’s decision to reclassify the Tablighi Jamaat-linked cases in its bulletin as “Special Operations” cases. These were called the “Markaz Masjid” cases in the city government’s health bulletins so far.
These “special operations” cases (712) account for two-thirds of the 1,069 Covid-19 cases confirmed in Delhi.
Of the 166 cases that tested positive in the last 24 hours, 128 cases - or 77 per cent -- were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation.
There has been no official word why the Arvind Kejriwal government decided to revise the classification.
According to one version, there had been some objection from some people at the government’s description of the cases. The Delhi Minorities Commission, according to news agency ANI, had insisted that the mention of the masjid in the bulletins had led to muslims being attacked and calls made for their social boycott.
“It was felt that the government’s descriptor might be seen to communalise what is essentially a health crisis,” a government official told Hindustan Times.
Second, he explained, the change was meant to reflect that the Tablighi Jamaat cases weren’t just restricted to the 2,000-plus people who were evacuated from the Markaz, the seven-storey headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in central Delhi’s Nizamuddin.
The initial burst of Tablighi Jamaat-linked Covid-19 cases were driven by infections among people who had been found at the multi-storey building.
But as the days went by, the government figured that the real super spreaders may be people who may have picked up the infection during a visit to the Markaz and headed back home. Or their contacts.
It is a concern that has worried top government functionaries at nearly every important review meeting that looks at the big picture. Like the one convened by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal this week.