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2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi event in 2020: MHA


New Delhi, Mar 31: The government on Tuesday said 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi activities since January 1 and all of them first reported at Tablighi Jammat's headquarters at Nizamuddin, which has apparently become a coronavirus hotspot.

The home ministry said a total of 303 Tablighi activists had symptoms of COVID-19 and were referred to different hospitals in Delhi.

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In a statement, the home ministry also said so far 1,339 Tabligh Jamaat workers have been shifted to Delhi's Narela, Sultanpuri and Bakkarwala quarantine facilities, as well as to LNJP, RGSS, GTB, DDU Hospitals in Delhi, and AllMS, Jhajjar (Haryana).

Rest of them are being currently medically screened for COVID-19 infections, it said, adding the government is committed to identify, isolate and quarantine all positive Tabligh Jamaat (TJ) workers in India post their congregation in Nizamuddin.

The home ministry said it is estimated that from January 1 onwards, approximately 2,100 foreigners had visited India for Tablighi activities.

As on March 21, approximately 824 of them dispersed to Markazes in different parts of the country, and 216 of them were staying at Nizamuddin Markaz.

Others might have left the country before the 21-day lockdown was announced on March 24, and which came into effect from the next day.

Tablighi Jamaat workers, both foreigners as well Indians, indulge in preaching tours or 'Chilla' across the country throughout the year.

People from various countries, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan come for Tabligh activities. All such foreign nationals normally report their arrival at Tablighi Markaz at Banglewali Mosque in Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi, the statement said.

From here, they are detailed for 'Chilla' activities to different parts of the country. 'Chilla' activities in all states are coordinated by district coordinators in different districts, who, in turn, in some states are supervised by 'state Amirs', the statement said.

The home ministry said a large number of Indian Tablighi Jamaat workers were also engaged in different parts of the country.

Details of the 824 foreigners had been shared on March 21 with all state police forces for identifying them, getting them medically screened and quarantining them, it said.

The details of foreign and Indian Tabhlig Jamaat (TJ) workers were shared with all states after COVID-19 positive cases among these workers surfaced in Telangana, it said, adding the swift action was taken with a view to identify, isolate and quarantine those TJ workers who might be COVID-19 positive.

Besides, on March 28, all state police were advised to collect the names of Indian Tablighi Jamaat workers from the local coordinators, locate them, get them medically screened and quarantine them.

"So far, about 2,137 such persons have been identified in different states," the statement said. They are being medically examined and quarantined. This process is still on and more such people would be identified and located.

"As on March 21, there were about 1,746 people staying in Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz. Of these, 216 were foreigners and 1,530 were Indians.

On March 28, the home ministry also issued a detailed advisory to Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all states, as well as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, on this issue, the home ministry said.

Again, State DGPs were advised by the Director of Intelligence Bureau on March 29, to trace the movement of all such Tablighi workers in their area, ascertain the people coming in their contacts and take steps for their medical screening. Many states have already started doing this, it said.

All the Tabligh Jamaat workers staying at Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz are being medically screened since March 26, it said, adding so far 1,203 Tabligh Jamaat workers have been medically screened.

The ministry said the Bureau of Immigration has been sharing (since February 1) with state authorities, details of all international arrivals from affected countries based on self-declaration form filled-in by them.

In addition, since March 6, the Bureau of Immigration had also been sharing details of all the international arrivals (both Indians and foreigners) at all the international airports in the country to the concerned state, based on the permanent address mentioned in their passports, in case of Indians, and hotel address, in case of foreigners.

Meanwhile, TJ workers staying in the Markaz in Nizamuddin, Delhi, were also persuaded for medical screening by State authorities and police. By March 29, nearly 162 TJ workers were medically screened and shifted to quarantine facilities.

Usually, all the foreign nationals visiting India as a part of Tabligh team come on the strength of tourist visa. The MHA had already issued guidelines that they should not indulge in any missionary work on tourist visa.

State Police would be examining categories of visas of all these foreign TJ workers and take further action in case of violation of visa conditions, the home ministry said. Tabligh Jamaat Headquarter (Markaz) is located in Nizamuddin, Delhi.

Devout Muslims from across India and also from foreign countries visit the Markaz for religious purpose. Some also move out in groups to different parts of the country for Tabligh activities. This is a continuous process throughout the year.

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